Daily Dose: Phillies turn to Madson as closer

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Brad Lidge was flawless last year, converting 41-of-41 save chances
with a 1.95 ERA, but blew six saves in 19 tries this season while
posting a 7.27 ERA and the Phillies placed him on the disabled list
Tuesday. Shutting Lidge down for a while may be the only way to stop
manager Charlie Manuel from using him in the ninth inning, so giving
his knee and arm some rest was the right move for the Phillies.

Ryan Madson was fantastic as Lidge’s primary setup man last season
and hasn’t missed a beat this year, posting a 2.84 ERA and 98/32 K/BB
ratio in 111 innings since the beginning of 2008. He’ll take over
ninth-inning duties and is an obvious must-own in all leagues, with
J.C. Romero stepping back into his setup role after returning last week
from a 50-game suspension.

While the Phillies hope that some time on the sidelines can cure Lidge, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* There were few surprises at the top of the draft Tuesday night, as
the Nationals selected San Diego State phenom Stephen Strasburg at No.
1 and the Mariners took North Carolina hitting machine Dustin Ackley at
No. 2. San Diego went with prep outfielder Donavan Tate at No. 3, while
Missouri ace Kyle Gibson fell all the way from consensus top-10 talent to Minnesota at No. 22 due to injury concerns.

Strasburg is capable of making an impact in the big leagues this
season, but the Nationals will have a difficult time simply signing him
by the mid-August deadline and there’ll be nothing to play for in
Washington anyway. Regardless of whether you buy into Strasburg being
the greatest college pitcher of all time or just one of the best in a
long time, if signed he should be a big fantasy asset by mid-2010.

* David Ortiz’s homer Saturday was a Fenway Park special, but his
two-run blast Tuesday off A.J. Burnett was a true bomb to deep center
field. His OPS narrowly squeaking past .600 is hardly cause for
celebration, but Ortiz has at least shown some actual signs of life
this month by going 7-for-24 (.292) with two homers and a double. With
his eyes checked and his swing looking better, maybe it’s time.

* Jesse Litsch has spent the past couple months rehabbing his elbow
injury after Dr. James Andrews twice recommended rest instead of
surgery, but those plans disappeared Tuesday when the Blue Jays
announced that he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery later this week. Litsch
had emerged as a solid mid-rotation starter, going 20-19 with a 3.83
ERA in 50 starts, but now faces 12 months of recovery.

AL Quick Hits: Jed Lowrie (wrist) is reportedly about one week
from beginning a rehab assignment … Brad Bergeson tossed eight
scoreless innings Tuesday for his third straight impressive outing …
Adam Lind homered Tuesday for the fourth time in five games and now
ranks fifth in the league with 45 RBIs … Ben Zobrist went deep Tuesday
for the 12th time in 148 at-bats and is sporting a 1.094 OPS after
coming into the year as a .222/.279/.370 hitter … Jose Arredondo was
10-2 with a 1.62 ERA last season, but is headed back to Triple-A after
posting a 5.55 ERA and pitching just three times since May 25 … Aaron
Poreda will work out of the bullpen initially after being called up
Tuesday, leaving Jose Contreras in the rotation with Bartolo Colon
(knee) going on the disabled list … Mark DeRosa hit a go-ahead grand
slam Tuesday and has 42 RBIs in 56 games despite a modest
.267/.332/.449 overall line … Cliff Lee’s streak of 10 straight Quality
Starts came to an end Tuesday with four runs in six innings.

NL Quick Hits: Jordan Zimmermann was scratched from his Tuesday
start with a sore elbow, but is slated to pitch Saturday … David Wright
homered Tuesday for the first time in over a month and is now batting
.348 … Johan Santana served up four homers Tuesday for just the second
time in his career, yet still managed his eighth victory … Jeremy
Hermida delivered a walk-off homer Tuesday versus Jason Motte … Mat
Gamel made his fourth straight start at third base Tuesday and smacked
his second career homer … J.J. Putz (elbow) underwent surgery Tuesday
and won’t be allowed to throw for at least six weeks … Carlos Gonzalez
went 2-for-4 with a steal while starting in left field Tuesday … As
expected, Chris Iannetta (hamstring) came off the disabled list Tuesday
and resumed starting for the Rockies … Pittsburgh will call up Charlie
Morton to start Wednesday against his former Braves teammates … Milton
Bradley (calf) rejoined the starting lineup Tuesday and is now
available for another injury.

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.