The National League West is expected to be one of the toughest divisions this year. You have the World Champion San Francisco Giants trying to repeat in 2013, the Los Angeles Dodgers dropped a boat load of money in an effort to win the division, the Diamondbacks are always competitive, the Padres, well you know the story with them, and the Colorado Rockies are going through a rebuilding year.
So lets just dive into this. Here are my 2013 National League West Predictions. Predicted records in parenthesis.
San Francisco Giants (91-71) have the same team leading them back from a championship parade and into the driver’s seat of the NL West. Their starting rotation is best in the division by far. Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong. Just look at it. Wipe the drool off your face. Look at it some more. I hate Matt Cain but he owns us. If Slim Tim can get back half of his CY Young self, the division is theirs to lose. They dont bolster a sexy line-up like the Doyers, but they dont need it when they have Buster Posey, reigning MVP, to single handedly provide offense. They have a proven formula. Can’t bet against it.
Arizona Diamondbags (88-74) didn’t have the season they expected in 2012. Their pitching couldn’t match what it did in 2011, leading them to the top of the NL West. A bit of a shake-up in the offseason hopes their pitching staff can find that 2011 steez. With the addition of Brandon McCarthey, and Wade Miley coming off a break out year, this rotation could be just as devastating as the Giants. Tyler Skaggs will hold the 5th spot in the rotation for the 5th spot in the rotation until Daniel Hudson comes back from Tommy John surgery after the All-Star break. Hudson, Kennedy, Cahill, McCarthey and Miley. *pause for a moment of envy*. Oh, and Heath Bell is in AZ. Maybe a set-up role will help him find his old self. That’s a scary thought for an already promising pitching staff. On the offensive side, their infield alone boasts a combined .297 BA and a .350 OBP. They got enough back with Martin Prado to fill in for Chris Johnson‘s production at the plate. Also, Aaron Hill and Paul Goldschmidt combined for 46 HR and 167 RBI last year. If that production can stay up and the pitching develops into what it is suppose to be, the Dbags could possibly steal the division from the Giants. But that’s the problem. Too many “if’s” and not enough proven consistency keeps them short of the division crown but in the hunt for a Wild Card spot.
Los Angeles Doyers (86-76) do not have enough pitching to beat out the above mentioned teams. Their line-up LOOKS really good but if they get off to a slow start or hit a rut, I think the team’s character will crumble under the pressure. I can’t remember the last time there was this much hype around baseball in LA so it’s going to be a new feeling for a lot of those guys and who knows how they will handle it. On top of that, no one is scared of Aaron Harang, Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett or closer Brandon League who converted only 15 of 21 save opportunities. The studded line-up will only get the Doyers so far. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke will not be able to shoulder the load of the entire rotation, leaving them just short of a playoff spot.
SAN DIEGO PADRES (81-81) have my homer optimism drenched all over that predicted record. This team is full of “if’s” just like the Dbags. Difference is their “if” guys have shown more productivity than our “if” guys. I’m done with Venable. We are counting on Jason Marquis and Eric Stults to have the same consistency they had down the stretch last year. Can they have that success over 30 starts? Andrew Cashner is being counted on to be a productive starter this season. Is his arm going to stay healthy? Another big question is Nick Hundley. He has some big steroid filled shoes to step in to. Worse part about it is, if he fails miserably, no one is sure how Grandal is going to comeback. Just how much did the ‘roids help his game? Remember when Shawn Merriman got caught juicing? He was done. Never the same player. Different sport, whatever, just saying. Our pitching is still depleted and being filled by garbage. BUT if the pitching staff can step up and Luebke can be his old self when he comes back, the Padres wont be terrible. If Grandal and Hundley can both be productive, the Padres wont be terrible. If Quentin can play 130 games, the Padres wont be terrible. If Gyorko can be a stud and hold down 2nd base, the Padres wont be terrible. See what I mean with the “if” differences between 2nd and 4th Place? Ours are a little far-fetched…but totally possible.
Colorado Rockies (68-94) had the best offense in 2012. Yes they play at Coors Field, but they also have Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Tyler Colvin coming off a decent year, Dexter Fowler continuing to get better and Willin Rosario proving to be a presence at the plate. But their pitching is so sorry, no line-up could cover up for that pitching staff. The lowest ERA held by a starter was Jhoulys Chacin at 4.43. Relief pitcher Rex Brothers had the most wins and best record of the entire staff at 8-2 and a 3.86 ERA in 75 appearances. No nickname for the Rockies. Its too easy to kick someone when they dont have two legs to walk on. I dont feel sorry for them but I am not threatened by them either so it is easy to take a passive approach to them. No pitching in this division leaves them with no chance.
Topics: Andrew Cashner, Arizona Diamondbacks, Carlos Quentin, Colorado Rockies, Cory Luebke, Heath Bell, Jedd Gyorko, Los Angeles Dodgers, Nick Hundley, NL West Prediction, Padres, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Will Venable, Yasmani Grandal