Dodgers acquire Ryan Madson to strengthen their bullpen

Liz Roscher

The Los Angeles Dodgers, who are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012, got some bullpen help on Friday when they acquired reliever Ryan Madson from the Washington Nationals.

Madson, 38, has not had a great season for the Nats. He’s got a 5.28 ERA in 49 appearances, which is pretty terrible. They’re a far cry from the numbers he put up in 2017: overall, he had a 1.83 ERA, allowed 38 hits, and just nine walks and two home runs (!!) in 59 innings. His sparking performance for the Oakland Athletics is why the Nationals traded for him in July 2017.

The walks and home runs are almost definitely the reason why Madson is struggling this year, not to mention his sharply increased hit total. In 44.1 innings, he’s given up 15 walks, six home runs, and 48 total hits. All of those are more than he gave up in the entirety of 2017, and the season still has a month left. It doesn’t seem like he’s finding the zone as often, and when he is, he’s throwing more meatballs that pitchers are teeing up. But Madson’s history since his 2015 comeback indicates that he’s a much better pitcher than he’s been showing. Different coaches, different teammates, and a different atmosphere could help.

Ryan Madson has been traded to the Dodgers to give their bullpen a boost. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Ryan Madson has been traded to the Dodgers to give their bullpen a boost. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Why would the Dodgers trade for a guy pitching as badly as Madson? Because they desperately need bullpen help. Over the last 30 days, the Dodgers bullpen has a 4.73 ERA, seventh-worst in baseball. Kenley Jansen, one of baseball’s most dependable closers, has struggled since coming off the DL with a heart issue. In his last four appearances, he has a 15.75 ERA, along with two losses and a blown save. Both Scott Alexander and Hyun-Jin Ryu have struggled in August. But mostly, guys are just injured. Three Dodgers relievers have gone on the disabled list in August, and the team needs bullpen arms.

The Dodgers are just two games out of first place, but the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks stand between them and a punched ticket to the playoffs. They’re 2.5 games out of the wild card, with the Rockies just ahead of them. There’s still a month left for the Dodgers to fight for a playoff spot, and they’re doing whatever they can to plug holes in their roster. Now they’re just hoping it’ll be enough.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter at @lizroscher.

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