Matt Garza to undergo MRI on strained lat muscle

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Matt Garza was hoping to start 2013 on a healthy note after he was shut down last season due to a stress reaction in his throwing elbow, but things might not work out that way.

Garza was 20 pitches into a batting practice session yesterday before he had to cut things short due to a lat strain. According to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com, the Cubs plan to send him for an MRI to get a read on the extent of the injury.

“The good news is his arm felt really strong,” Hoyer said Monday. “He was throwing really well. It’s unfortunate, for sure, and it’s going to set him back a little bit. But we’re still really confident.”

The Cubs obviously didn’t want to take any chances this early in the spring, so the hope is that the injury is minor. However, in the event that he needs to start the season on the disabled list, both Travis Wood and Carlos Villanueva would likely end up with rotation spots.

Garza, 29, had a 3.91 ERA and 96/32 K/BB ratio over 103 2/3 innings last season prior to his elbow injury. He’s owed $10.25 million in 2013 and can become a free agent next offseason.

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