Unlike the NL East and NL Central, the West looks weak. This is going to be a pitchers division with many stud aces taking the mound and very weak lineups following. The Giants and Padres should have the NL’s worst 2 lineups, while the Diamondbacks are young and inexperienced, and the Rockies have lost their best player and the Dodgers had lost their until midway through spring training.. Which lineup will take this division?
This team is young, but only missed the playoffs by 2 games last year. They bring back a great starting rotation and a decent lineup, but lack power. They lost Adam Dunn in the offseason and it’s going to take a bite out of their power but they bring back a lot of youngsters in their prime who could make up for that loss.
The lineup will include Felipe Lopez, Chris Snyder, Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds, Conor Jackson, Chris Young, and Justin Upton. All have the potential to be great players down the line, especially Young, Reynolds, and Upton, but I feel as though they are still a year or 2 away from really putting it together. The pitching staff will have to carry them, the question is, can they?
The staff includes All Stars Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. They are followed by Doug Davis, Jon Garland, and Max Scherzer. This is a solid rotation, but the whole division is full of solid rotations. In fact, i’d bet the under for every division matchup in the NL West this year.
The bullpen pretty much consists of Qualls, Rauch and Tony Pena. This should hold over and be a decent bullpen, especially since the starters are good enough to get into the 7th inning consistently.
Webb and Haren will be Webb and Haren, even though Webb has struggled since last August, he is still an Ace. Davis, Garland, and Scherzer will be the question marks, and solid performances or a breakout season for Max could mean the D’Backs are playoff bound. They will also have to find some power in the lineup if they are to make a run.
This team finished 3rd last year and have lost All Star Matt Holliday to the Oakland A’s. Their pitching staff should be a bit better than last year, but will it be enough to boost them into making a playoff run? Remember, they play in a hitter’s ballpark and probably have the weakest rotation in the West.
The pitching staff consists of Cook, Jimenez, Marquis, De La Rosa and Franklin Morales. They have lost their clubhouse leader Jeff Francis to injury. Cook is a very overrated pitcher, but the rest of this staff could surprise, especially Ubaldo Jimenez. He has some nasty stuff, and a break out season in this offense starved division isn’t very far fetched.
The bullpen consists of newly acquired Huston Street in the Holliday trade, Manny Corpas, and Taylor Buchholz who is on the DL. This is a serviceable bullpen and shouldn’t cause a problem with blowing games as long as the starters give them opportunities.
The lineup isn’t that bad, but they will definetely miss Matt Holliday. Iannetta, an aging Helton, Barmes, Tulowitzki, Atkins, Spilborghs, and Hawpe are the main hitters in the lineup, with Ian Stewart coming off the bench. Dexter Fowler is also a very interesting rookie, and should put up some solid numbers, double digit homerun and steal totals are very possible.
The Rockies should contend as long as their lineup can contend with the strong pitching staffs of this division. They have the weakest pitching staff, which means they can’t just match their opponents in run support for their pitchers, but will have to surpass them because their staff will not be able to match up with the rest of the West.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The winners of West last year return most of their players. They have a decent lineup with the addition of Orlando Hudson and the resigning of Manny Ramirez. They have a decent yet very young pitching staff, so the hitting, like in the case of many of this division’s teams, will have to carry them.
The rotation is led by ace, and yes he’s an ace, Chad Billingsley. It will be followed by Kuroda, Wolf, and youngsters Clayton Kershaw and James McDonald. Besides Billingsley, the rotation has some question marks. I feel as though Kershaw is a year away from being dominant and McDonald 2 or 3 years away. Of course Jason ‘waste of money’ Schmidt is on the DL yet again.
The bullpen consists of Broxton, Kuo, Mota, and newly acquired Will Ohman. Claudio Vargas is also on the DL. This bullpen should be able to hold up and compete with the rest of the division.
The lineup is great. Russell Martin, Loney, Hudson, Furcal, Casey Blake, Manny, Kemp, and Ethier are dangerous from 1-8. They are also a lot better than the other lineups in this division, especially if Manny goes off again, like he’s know to do. They also have some depth at all positions with Ausmus, Mientkiewicz, DeWitt, Delwyn Young, and Juan Pierre coming off the bench.
The Dodgers can repeat, but they will need Manny to be Manny, and they will need the young pitchers to come through.
San Diego Padres
The Padres were in dead last by several games last year. I can’t seem them improving much. Most likely they will battle the Astros and Nationals for the worst record in the NL. However, they do play in a weak division and have 2 aces that may be able to carry them.
The aces I am referring to are Jake Peavy and Chris Young. They both had healthy issues last year and will need to be workhorses in order to help the Padres compete this year. Walter Silva is also a nice prospect, only time will tell if he pans out.
They have lost their all time saves leader in Trevor Hoffman to the Milwaukee Brewers. This leaves Heath Bell to closing duties, and he’s a beast. The rest of the bullpen isn’t up to par and contains Cla Meredith and Duaner Sanchez.
The lineup consists of Nick Hundley, Eckstein, Kouzmanoff, Headley, Gerut, Brian Giles, and Adrian ‘Gonzo’ Gonzalez. Gonzo seems like he could be on his way down, while Headley has much upside but hasn’t reached his potential yet. Cliff Floyd of course is on the DL.
For the Padres to compete, Peavy and Young will need to pitch all year. The run support is going to be slim, but that should be the case for all these teams. Walter Silva will need to be decent as well.
San Francisco Giants
This team had 72 wins last year, 12 behind the leading Dodgers. I feel like they may close the gap this year with a dominant pitching staff. However, they do have the worst lineup in the NL according to many experts. Will there be enough run support?
This lineup lacks power from top to bottom. Their cleanup hitter is 16 hr hitting Bengie Molina. No one understands why Ishikawa has gotten the start at 1b over Nate Schierholtz. The rest of the lineup consists of Renteria, Sandoval, Fred Lewis, Rowand, and Randy Winn.
The pitching staff is full of guys that can just make people miss. They will contend to be the top strikeout staff in the majors with Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum leading the way for Matt Cain, Randy Johnson, Jonathan Sanchez, and Barry Zito (yuck!).
The bullpen consists of Bow Howry and Jeremy Affeldt. The closer will be a very underrated Brian Wilson who recently hit 100 mph with a fastball, in the first game of the season for the Giants.
The Giants will compete, and should improve on the pitching end. The worst lineup in the NL will hurt though. I can see them sneaking in to be the division winners, and wouldn’t consider it a longshot, but would consider it unlikely.
The Dodgers are the only team that has a potent offense in this pitching dominated division. Their pitchers are good enough to compete and their lineup will propel them to another division title. I think the Giants and Diamondbacks have very dominant pitching staffs, but will fall short due to a lack of run support.
Running up the rear will be the Rockies who have lost thier best player and have some aging players. Their pitching staff is also not up to par with the rest of the division. Their youngsters though will propel them over the Padres who have nothing going for them except for Peavy, Young, and Gonzo. 3 players that, in my mind, won’t be able to avoid a last place finish.