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2017 NL West Preview: Dodger Blue Coming Through

The 2017 NL West race is the Los Angeles Dodgers’ to lose, but they could be battle-scarred by both old foes and new up-and-comers.

This has been the subject of Los Angeles reign for the past four seasons. Others have come close, and during that time, San Francisco has gone on to win the World Series. The Dodgers can’t seem to figure that part out despite winning the NL West every year. If they succeed in 2017, they’re going to have to go through the Cubs to get to their first Fall Classic since 1988. As for what happens before October, will the Dodgers make it a five-peat?

2017 NL West Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks

Just about everything that could have gone wrong for the Snakes did in 2016. With a 69-93 record after having beefed up their rotation, they somehow managed to have a worse season than the prior year. It’s that this rotation massively underachieved that the Diamondbacks had such a horrible 2016.

Zack Greinke, supposed to be the ace of the staff, pitched to a pedestrian 4.37 ERA and coughed up 23 homers. There were fours, fives, and even sixes in the ERA column for Arizona starters last year, including Shelby Miller, who went 3-12 with a 6.15 in 20 starts. Greinke, Miller, and their starting pitching compadres need to step up in 2017. They’d probably be the first to tell you they didn’t get the job done last year.

Paul Goldschmidt is still the face of the franchise, and under the age of 30 with his contract controlled for at least two more seasons. Arizona can make another go at building a disaster-free team around him. The D-Backs lost Jean Segura, but they’re getting back the injured AJ Pollock.

Arizona should have been better than they were last year. Their success or failure in 2017 will determined by their pitching staff showing up to play or not. It’s likely that at least one of those five will have a better season than what was there in 2016, but can they stay healthy? Further, can they keep up with the Dodgers and Giants of the world?

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2017 NL West Preview: Colorado Rockies

Colorado is getting their proverbial ducks in a row. They might not be world-beaters yet, or ready to challenge the Dodgers for the division, but this is a young, improving team.

The Rox only won 75 games last season, but the burgeoning talent is undeniable. Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story are welcome members of the Colorado lineup, while DJ LeMahieu and Charlie Blackmon tore the cover off the ball, and Carlos Gonzalez continued to rake. This was the best offensive team in the National League in 2016, not the Cubs.

Where the Rockies suffered — and isn’t this always the way — was with their pitching. Those are some nasty altitudes in which to be throwing a baseball, though all things considered, they weren’t that bad. Statistically, they were one of the worst pitching staffs in the NL, and their bullpen wasn’t very good at all. In fact, the bullpen was the key force behind the pitching staff’s failure. If they get help anywhere from the pitching staff, and this includes further improvement from starters Jon Gray, Chad Bettis, and Tyler Chatwood, Colorado can absolutely have a winning season.

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2017 NL West Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have won the division four years in a row. They have all of the pieces necessary to make it five.

One of those pieces is Clayton Kershaw, annually one of the best pitchers in baseball, if not the best. As long as he keeps toeing the rubber for the Dodgers, they’ll be a contender.

Some may say the Dodgers’ biggest loss in the offseason was Vin Scully, venerable broadcaster who retired after spending a lifetime in baseball. They added Logan Forsythe, who fits into this lineup that balances veterans and young talent.

They’re going to get pushed by San Francisco, but this is still the best team in the division. If they get to the playoffs, can they go anywhere this time? Specifically, the World Series?

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2017 NL West Preview: San Diego Padres

Do you even remember the last time the Padres were good, or at least okay? 2010 was their last winning season, they lost a wild card playoff in 2007, and they last got to the NLDS in 2006. Their only 90-win season since they won the pennant in 1998 was that 2010 campaign. For a franchise that has made the playoffs twice in almost 20 years, they’d kill for a change.

Unfortunately, on paper, it doesn’t look like one is coming, at least for now. Sure, Wil Myers is pretty good, and Drew Pomeranz had a 17-game season that turned out quite well in the starting rotation. Hunter Renfroe also looks like he could be an interesting addition to the outfield. It’s what’s around these guys that’s the problem.

The San Diego offense was dreadfully bad last season, and without Renfroe adding some pop to the lineup across the whole season, there’s not much reason to think this will change. With the exception of Renfroe, who only played in 11 games last season, not a single Padre hit .300. San Diego struggled to get players on-base and probably still will.

Outside of Pomeranz, the rotation is unimpressive. Jered Weaver could help, though he’s had back-to-back rough seasons. The move to the NL West may help, but then again, Colorado will mash and Los Angeles is consistent. Hard-throwing Carter Capps will be a help out of the bullpen, if he’s healthy for the start of the season.

While this team has a few nice contributors, they don’t have nearly enough.

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2017 NL West Preview: San Francisco Giants

It’s an odd-numbered year, so San Francisco will not win the World Series; just throwing that out there.

Madison Bumgarner, like Clayton Kershaw down the coast, will keep his team afloat by virtue of showing up. He’s that good, but he did give up a few too many homers last year. Johnny Cueto has also been excellent for the Giants, and the two of them plus Jeff Samardzija will keep the Giants’ rotation contributing. Mark Melancon will also help in the bullpen, and pitching wins championships.

San Francisco’s lineup is fine, and shouldn’t be a huge problem, but they can’t afford to take injuries to their key players. The Giants didn’t hit for power, and expect that to remain the same, but they’ve got so little production in that area that they can’t afford to lose any of it.

This is a good, not great team that should be in the mix for a wild card.

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