Heavy workload catches up to Jonny Venters and his elbow

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Jonny Venters’ left arm may have finally succumbed to the strain of his heavy workloads, as the Braves placed the setup man on the disabled list with an elbow impingement.

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution notes that there has never been any talk of Venters being hurt until now, but there have been signs within his performance dating back to late last season.

Venters was ridiculously good last year and the Braves rode him extremely hard, calling on the left-hander for a league-leading 85 appearances and 88 innings. He faded down the stretch, posting a 5.65 ERA in his final 15 games compared to a 1.10 ERA through 70 games.

He bounced back this season by allowing zero earned runs in April, but since May 1 he has a 6.08 ERA. That includes six homers and 18 runs allowed in 24 innings after Venters allowed a grand total of two homers and 19 runs in 88 innings last season. Of course, Venters also has 26 strikeouts in those 24 innings since May 1 and if he’s been able to do that while pitching through an injury … well, that’s pretty damn amazing.

Since the beginning of 2010 the Braves have called on Venters for 204 appearances, which is the most in baseball and no one else is above 193. He was ridden hard and put away wet.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.