The Strasburg Watch: Amazing year ends with loss

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Stephen Strasburg started the NCAA tournament opener for San Diego
State on Friday night and the game against Virginia was televised on
ESPN Classic, giving many people their first look at the phenom who’ll
be the No. 1 overall pick next week.

Virginia jumped on Strasburg early with a solo homer in the first
inning and then turned two singles and two wild pitches into another
run in the second frame.

Strasburg was pretty much untouchable after that, using his high-90s
fastball and video game-like slider to rack up 15 strikeouts and zero
walks over seven innings, but enough damage was already done.

San Diego State’s offense couldn’t break through against Virginia
starter Robert Morey and the bullpen coughed up three runs once
Strasburg departed, leading to a 5-1 loss. The Aztecs staved off elimination Saturday with a win over Fresno State, but were knocked out of the tournament yesterday with a 14-3 loss to UC Irvine.

Strasburg’s college career isn’t officially over yet because he’s just
a junior, but there’s little chance of him returning for another season
even if contract negotiations with the Nationals break down. Despite
finishing on a losing note, Strasburg was dominant even in defeat and
ends his historic season 13-1 with a 1.32 ERA and 195/19 K/BB ratio in
109 innings.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves