Who closes for Philly tonight?

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Or, if they’re tied or losing, who comes out of the pen late?  Lidge? Madson? Even when his usage suggested that he was going with the hot hand (or, in this case, the less cold hand) Charlie Manuel has at least verbally insisted for most of the postseason that Brad Lidge is still the guy. Now? He’s not pretending it isn’t a gut call anymore:

“I don’t want to sound like smart or nothing, but I’m probably going to use him the way I want to, when we get there and how I feel,” Manuel said of Lidge. Then, referring to the pitching coach Rich Dubee, he said, “I’ll do a lot of talking in the dugout with Dubee, and we’ll decide on which one we want to put out there.”

Until now Manuel has always had some basis, however thin, to say that Lidge was really the guy and that Madson was in because of matchups or recent workload or whatever.  But unlike Monday night, the Phillies now face an elimination game with both Lidge and Madson rested.  I’ll be fascinated to see who Manuel calls for if the Phillies are up entering the eighth or ninth inning.

If the Yankees are up?  Well, it’s worth noting that Mariano Rivera only needed 13 pitches to close games three and four, and didn’t pitch at all on Monday.  If the Phillies can’t jump on Andy Pettitte tonight, they are almost certainly going to see Rivera for two innings.  Maybe (gulp) three.

So my advice to the Phillies: score early and score often, because if you’re down late, it’s over, over over.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.