End of the line for D-Train? Phillies release Dontrelle Willis

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Last week after an ugly appearance Dontrelle Willis described his performance as “horse[bleep]” and it turns out the Phillies apparently agreed, releasing the veteran left-hander today.

Willis signed a one-year, $850,000 deal in December and was expected to serve as a situational southpaw out of the bullpen after shutting down lefty bats in 2011, but he’d never filled that role before and unfortunately the switch to relief didn’t work miracles on the 30-year-old who hasn’t been healthy and effective in the same season since 2006.

He was checked out for a sore arm and fatigue recently, but the Phillies decided Willis isn’t worth the trouble at this point. Last season Willis had a 5.00 ERA and 57/37 K/BB ratio in 76 innings for the Reds and combined during the past five seasons he has a 5.65 ERA in 404 innings, albeit all as a starter.

Willis has always been a good-hitting pitcher and, as sad as this sounds, he might want to give hitting a try full time. His odds of returning to the majors and finding success again as a pitcher are slim and dwindling. If he keeps pitching, expect Willis to settle for a minor-league deal somewhere.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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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 West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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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 West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics