John Lackey had elbow examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum

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No details of the visit have been revealed by the Red Sox, but Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that John Lackey recently met with Dr. Lewis Yocum in California to have his right elbow examined.

According to Bradford’s sources the Red Sox expect to have a “final resolution” by the end of this week, which suggests surgery is an option for Lackey.

Lackey is owed $15.25 million in each of the next three seasons and there’s an option for 2015 that triggers at the MLB minimum salary if he needs elbow surgery.

Having him around for another season, even at the league minimum, may not sound like a positive thing for the Red Sox, but as Bradford notes the extra year being tacked onto the current contract would change the annual value of the deal and allow the team to spread out his luxury tax figure.

In other words, Lackey having elbow surgery would knock him out for 2012 and put his career in flux, but it would also save the Red Sox some money. And obviously finding out that he has significant elbow damage would help explain Lackey’s decline. His average fastball velocity this season matched a career-high at 91.6 miles per hour, but Lackey’s strikeout and walk rates were both far worse than his career norms.

Braves clinch NL East title

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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.