Ryan Madson to throw bullpen session Monday

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Ryan Madson had a minor setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery in early February, but he’s beginning to make progress.

According to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, Madson is set to throw a bullpen session Monday for the first time since his shutdown. However, it’s just the first step of a long process.

Madson told Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register last week that he will need about eight bullpen sessions before pitching in a game, so he’s no lock to make an appearance during Cactus League action. As of now, the Angels are hopeful that he’ll be ready to join the bullpen in mid-April.

Ernesto Frieri, who saved 23 games in 26 chances last season, is the favorite to serve as the closer while Madson rounds into shape. Scott Downs, Sean Burnett and Kevin Jepsen have also been mentioned as possibilities.

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.