Chris Carpenter begins rehab assignment at Double-A

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Chris Carpenter took a big step yesterday in his recovery from thoracic outlet syndrome, making his first minor-league rehab start at Double-A.

Carpenter threw 2.2 innings in his first game action since last year, striking out five and walking two while allowing three runs on six hits. In terms of numbers it wasn’t an impressive outing for Carpenter, but Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the 38-year-old right-hander was clocked as high as 95 miles per hour with his fastball.

Allen Vaughan, who was at the game reporting for MLB.com, had a slightly different velocity story, writing that “his fastball sat between 89 mph and 92 mph, and his cutter ranged from 86 to 88.”

Either way, Carpenter’s fastball averaged 90.5 miles per hour in 2012 and most importantly after yesterday’s start he seemed very optimistic about how he felt physically.

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