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Ryan Madson Out For Season

Prior to last season, Ryan Madson teased fantasy owners as one of those relievers. He was clearly good enough to close, yet a couple ill-timed flareups in his limited save opps over the preceeding few years left him regrettably labled as incapable of "handling" the ninth, relegating him to seventh- and eighth-inning duties.

Though he was actually the Phils' third choice to close last season, Mad Dog got his chance to earn some saves when both Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras were injured, and he handled the gig with aplomb, setting himself up nicely for a foray into free agency.

After signing with the Reds this offseason, Madson was supposed to have been Cincinnati's undisputed full-time closer, but both parties have been dealt a cruel blow, as the right-hander will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. It's unclear whether his $11MM mutual option for 2013 will be exercised, so Madson could find himself in a new uniform by the time he's ready to return, potentially concluding his Reds tenure without having thrown a pitch.

Left-hander Sean Marshall, also imported to Cincy's bullpen in the offseason, should now assume closing duties, and there's a lot to like about him from a fantasy perspective. Marshall is coming off two consecutive years of excellent work out of the Cubs' bullpen as a primary setup man to Carlos Marmol, posting sub-2.50 SIERAs in both. He boasts strong strikeout rates, induces lots of grounders and has solid control, a perfect cocktail for success.

Aroldis Chapman is nearly impossible to hit when he's not issuing free passes, so he can't be entirely ruled out as a closing candidate until the Reds confirm their plans, but considering he put up an ugly 7.38 BB/9 rate in 2011, I think it's safe to say he still has some work to do, and it's only fair to assume the Reds will afford him that opportunity somewhere other than the ninth inning. As well, the Reds had been tinkering with the idea of making Chapmania a starter this season, and although that now appears to be off, they might prefer to keep him in a role where he can more easily be stretched out for more than one inning if the situation calls for it.

So, if your league has already conducted its draft, nab Marshall from the wire yesterday if he's still there. He projects to be an excellent value as someone who could finish in the top half or even top third among closers by season's end. If you haven't yet drafted, stash Marshall away in the back end of your queue, and nab him toward the mid- or late-teen rounds. He'll likely go under the radar, as the default draft rankings will under rate him, and many of your leaguemates will either not know about his new promotion or will have forgotten during the drafting frenzy.

Whether you nab Marshall off your league's wire or buy him cheaply on draft day, he should be a relative bargain. It's a shame that it had to come at Madson's expense, but fantasy is a dirty business, and Mad Dog's injury has created a value opportunity for those who are hip on Marshall. Hopefully, Madson will be back in 2013, good as new.

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