John Danks on track to make first rehab start Sunday

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John Danks was able to throw 36 pitches in a bullpen session yesterday. He’ll still have to make it through another side session Thursday, but Paul Casella of MLB.com reports that he’s tentatively scheduled to make his first minor league rehab start Sunday.

Danks has been sidelined since leaving a start against the Nationals on June 25 with a right oblique strain. He’s scheduled to make two rehab starts before being reevaluated, but White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen indicated that they aren’t in a hurry to bring him back to the big-league rotation.

“Danks threw today, he’s fine,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. [Pitching coach Don Cooper] has got a schedule for him in the Minor Leagues. We’re not going to rush him. We’ve got plenty of days to come back.”

Assuming he needs just the two starts in the minor leagues, Danks lines up to make his return July 20 against against the Royals.

Danks is 3-8 with a 4.21 ERA over 15 starts this season. The 26-year-old left-hander had a 1.14 ERA and 19/3 K/BB ratio over his last four outings prior to the injury.

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