The Los Angeles Angels signed Ryan Madson to a contract this off-season. They knew when they did it that it was risky, because he was coming off of an injury. Madson isn’t someone that has had a ton of surgeries to end seasons during his career, so his comeback path from Tommy John was uncertain at best.
For a while, it looked like he was on pace to return by Opening Day, or at least by late April.
Now, the timeline is uncertain.
With Madson still throwing from a flat surface after an early February setback, the Angels are now looking for not only a stopgap closer, but someone that can be the closer for any length of time that Madson isn’t able to go. The obvious front-runner to get the spot is Ernesto Frieri who converted 23 of 26 save chances last season. He is not alone, however.
Mike Scioscia will give several other guys their chance as well. Scott Downs and Kevin Jepsen are among the other top guys, though neither of them have much closing experience. The Angels might even take the infamous ‘Closer-by-committee’ system, but that is doubtful.
Scioscia knows by now that there is an outside chance that his big-name closer won’t return to form this season if he cannot overcome this setback in time. That means he needs someone to be the man in the ‘pen.
The clear choice by numbers is Frieri, but Jepsen looks decent too. I’d give the nod to Frieri at this point only because he is coming off of saves last season, and he might already be in the closer mentality whereas his competitors for the spot will not.