Pirates activate closer Jason Grilli

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The first-place Pirates are getting a nice boost.

According to beat reporter Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, right-hander Jason Grilli has been activated from the disabled list and will be available to pitch in Tuesday night’s game against the Brewers. Mark Melancon will remain the Bucs’ closer in the immediate future, but Grilli can reclaim that ninth-inning gig if he pitches well enough.

“We’ll use him at least a couple times in non-leverage situations to see how he fares, how he feels,” manager Clint Hurdle said Tuesday. “We eventually plan on transitioning him back to the closer’s role.”

Grilli had a 2.34 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 30 saves in 42 1/3 innings this season before straining his right forearm on a slider in late July. Pittsburgh currently leads St. Louis by one game in the National League Central.

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