Cubs sticking with Carlos Marmol after another ugly outing

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After being yanked from his first save chance of the season Cubs closer Carlos Marmol escaped another mess with a save yesterday, but it wasn’t pretty as he allowed three hits and one walk before Neil Walker did him a huge favor by grounding into a game-ending double play.

Despite the back-to-back ugly outings manager Dale Sveum reiterated that he’s sticking with Marmol as closer, telling Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago: “I’m not doing anything. We’re 2-1. Everyone is in the same roles heading into Atlanta.”

It’s worth noting that Marmol went through multiple rough patches last season and had an ERA as high as 5.61 in mid-July, but then finished the year with a 1.52 ERA and 39 strikeouts in his final 30 innings. What makes Marmol so maddening to watch is that he’s capable of dominant stretches, but with Kyuji Fujikawa looming as an obvious replacement it’s hard to imagine Sveum having a ton of patience.

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