Rays place Jeff Niemann on DL, call up Brandon Guyer

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As expected, the Rays have placed Jeff Niemann on the disabled list after he left Wednesday’s start with a strained back.

There’s no timetable yet for his return, but Niemann told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that the injury “is very frustrating.”

According to Steve Wiseman of the Durham Herald Sun the Rays are replacing Niemann on the roster by calling up outfielder Brandon Guyer from Triple-A. Guyer, who was acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade and is hitting .356 with six homers and a 1.018 OPS in 28 games at Durham, was informed of the call-up last night but an official move hasn’t been announced.

Not replacing Niemann with another pitcher signals that the Rays will likely slide Andy Sonnanstine into his rotation spot. Sonnanstine has plenty of past experience as a starter, but it comes with a 5.33 career ERA in 76 starts and he’s been far more successful as a reliever.

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