Chris Volstad earns first win since July 2011

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Chris Volstad snapped a 14-game losing streak that extended back more than a year by throwing 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the Cubs’ 5-0, rain-shortened win over the Rockies on Sunday.

The game was delayed and then called prior to the top of the ninth.

Volstad was 0-9 in 13 starts for the Cubs this year and 0-14 dating back to July 10, 2011, when he beat the Astros for his last victory as a Marlin.

Volstad was largely unlucky last year when the streak got started; he allowed three runs or fewer in each of his final seven starts for Florida. The Cubs picked him up for Carlos Zambrano over the winter, and he definitely deserved the lousy record this year; he entered the day with a 6.88 ERA and just two Quality Starts. The Cubs had been 1-12 when he pitched.

The soon-to-be 26-year-old Volstad needs a serious rally from here on in to avoid being non-tendered this winter. He’s making $2.655 million this year in his first season of arbitration eligibility.

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