Bullpen looks like Phillies' only weakness

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Prior to Brad Lidge’s arrival Brett Myers served as the Phillies’ closer for most of 2007, converting 21-of-24 saves with a 2.87 ERA and 64/18 K/BB ratio in 53.1 innings as a reliever.
Myers has spent most of this season on the disabled list following hip surgery, but with four scoreless appearances in five tries since returning two weeks ago he’s seemingly an alternative to Ryan Madson as the replacement closer now that Lidge has pitched himself out of ninth-inning duties.
However, manager Charlie Manuel said yesterday that Myers is not an option yet:

Watching him the three or four times we’ve run him out there, he’s not quite ready. He still has some problems at times. It’s kind of like he’s back in spring training. He’s not 100 percent. He has soreness, which is kind of normal because he missed so much time. Right now, he’s not ready to be turned loose.

For the most part the Phillies look incredibly strong heading into the postseason. Offensively they lead the NL in homers, doubles, slugging percentage, and runs scored. Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez are a combined 12-2 with a 2.74 ERA since joining the team, Cole Hamels has gone 3-1 with a 1.43 ERA in his last five starts, and the presence of Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ makes for perhaps the deepest rotation in baseball.
Yet all the good hitting and all the strong starting pitching can go for naught in the postseason if relievers can’t hold leads and Lidge’s collapse combined with Chan Ho Park’s hamstring injury and Myers’ uncertain status has turned the Phillies’ bullpen into a major question mark. Luckily they have a 7.5-game lead in the NL East and three more weeks to sort things out before embarking on their title defense.

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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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.