Surprise! Unheralded players are making their marks, raising some eyebrows

In 2011, outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. was a first-round draft pick by the Blue Jays. Then, after hitting. .268 in seven minor league seasons for the Blue Jays, he was traded March 8 to Baltimore for international slot money the Orioles weren't going to use anyway. When he arrived in spring training in Sarasota, Fla., he was projected as outfield depth on an Orioles roster ... read more

Nationals' issues negated by other NL East teams with their own problems

The Nationals' first month of the season has been mediocre, but they are lucky none of the other three teams expected be National League East contenders are playing well either. The Mets and Braves can score, but each has pitching issues, the Mets in the rotation and the Braves in the bullpen. And the Nationals' bullpen struggles are documented well, although Erick Fedde and the ... read more

NL East has a bullpen problem

The Nationals aren't the only team in the National League East with bullpen issues. After an offseason of acquiring bullpen arms, NL East teams are having difficult times finding reliable relief arms. And there are still two weeks to go in April. The Nationals' Austen Williams gave up four ninth-inning runs Wednesday in a 9-6 win against the Giants at Nationals Park, meaning the Nationals ... read more

Answers to questions about early surprise squads

The answers to questions regarding the top five surprising teams in the early going on the season: Q: What is fueling the Tigers' first-place run in the American League Central? A: Pitching and defense. "This is about throwing the ball over the plate and catching it,'' Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said to the Detroit Free Press. "But we can't get too high on this stuff. ... read more

First week of new seasons brings unexpected twists and turns in AL East

A week into the season, the Yankees are already on Plan C at shortstop. Gleyber Torres played the position Thursday against the Orioles in the Camden Yards home opener. It worked fine. Torres, batting seventh, hit two home runs in the Yankees' 8-4 victory against the Orioles. His single in the eighth inning gave him a career-high four hits. The Yankees' standing-room-only injured list is ... read more

Harper's homecoming a time to remember his immense offensive impact

Bryce Harper will be returning to Nationals Park for the rest of his career, just not the way Nats fans were thinking. Harper, 26, will be wearing Phillies gray for three trips a year into Washington, starting Tuesday night. Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with National League East rival Philadelphia, leaving the only major league city he's called home. Harper will wear No. ... read more

Phillies made their move, but so did rest of NL East

The offseason for the National League East was a steady stream of reinforcements, making it the most competitive division of Major League Baseball's six. Four teams have a chance to win the crown. The biggest offseason splash was the Phillies' trade for catcher J.T. Realmuto. But that was only until halfway through spring training, when they signed free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper. So, how will the ... read more

Red Sox the favorites in the American League East

After going 11-3 in the postseason en route to winning the 2018 World Series, the Red Sox are taking aim at becoming the first repeat World Series winner since the Yankees won their third consecutive in 2000. History says the Red Sox have an uphill climb. Since 2000, only the 2001 Yankees and 2009 Phillies returned to the World Series after winning it the previous ... read more