Previewing Sunday Night Baseball: Dodgers at Angels

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With the Dodgers and Angels less than two hours away from first pitch, here’s a few things to consider:

On the bump:

– John Lackey (2-2, 6.10) takes the hill for the Angels. Lackey enjoyed
his best start of the season in his last outing against the Giants,
fanning a season-high 10 while allowing three runs over seven innings.
He’s been shaky since missing the first six weeks of the season due to
inflammation in his pitching elbow, allowing 52 hits in 38 1/3 innings
(.335 BAA). Lefties are batting .422 against him thus far.

– Clayton Kershaw (3-5, 4.13) pitches for the Dodgers. Kershaw
blanked the Athletics over 5 2/3 innings in his last start, but
suffered a no-decision. He is winless in his last three starts, dating
back to May 27. The 21-year-old southpaw has a 70/42 K/BB ratio in 69
2/3 innings pitched this season.

Martin ends drought:

– Russell Martin connected for his first home run of the season in
the 6-4 win on Saturday night. The third-inning blast ended a 217
at-bat drought.

Figgins red-hot in June:

– Chone Figgins leads the majors with a .403 batting average since May 15.

Manny Who:

– The Dodgers are an NL-best 24-16 since Manny Ramirez was suspended.

Fantasy angle:

– Juan Rivera is batting .431/.508/.902 with six homers and nine RBI against left-handers this season

– Jonathan Broxton returned to the mound on Saturday after missing
three games with a sore toe. He allowed his first home run of the
season to Gary Matthews Jr., but still managed to notch his 16th save.

Yordano Ventura killed in an auto accident

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 2:  Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals jokes with teammates as he walks off the field after the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on June 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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UPDATE, 12:07 p.m. EDT: The Royals have confirmed reports of Yordano Ventura’s death with an official statement. No further details pertaining to the accident have been divulged.

Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.

Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.

Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.

Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.

Report: Tim Lincecum is not ready for retirement

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 29:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 29, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).

Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.

While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.