There are several surprises in the National League West division standings in the early going, including the San Diego Padres avoiding last place and the Colorado Rockies leading the pack.
As of Monday, May 8, the National League West standings look topsy-turvy. Although the long slog has just begun, the San Francisco Giants have surprised everyone by snatching last place from the San Diego Padres. In the meantime, the Colorado Rockies find themselves atop the West with a solid 20-12 record.
The Los Angeles Dodgers recently moved from the middle of the pack to second place, barely ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Both the Dodgers and the Giants have suffered the loss of rotation stalwarts, Rich Hill (blisters) and Madison Bumgarner (sprained AC joint in pitching shoulder, sustained in dirt bike accident).
Although Hill may return to LA’s rotation soon, MadBum could be out for two months or even longer. For the Dodgers, who have a wealth of pitching, the loss of Hill does not loom nearly as large as the Giant’s loss of their ace.
On top of losing Bumgarner’s services, Giants’ starters Matt Moore (1-4, 6.7 ERA) and Jeff Samardzija (0-4, 5.03 ERA) have disappointed. So has closer Mark Melancon, who was brought in to stabilize their weak bullpen. He has already blown two saves, one against the Padres.
In the meantime, the DBacks find themselves in third place with a respectable 18-15 record. Zack Greinke seems to have regained his form after a disappointing 2016, especially in light of his six-year $206.5 million deal.
The Rockies, under new manager Bud Black, have surprised just about everyone with their fast start. No one doubted the prowess of their hitters, but their young pitchers have opened eyes.
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At 27, Tyler Anderson and Tyler Chatwood find themselves the elder statesmen among the starters. Undaunted by the environment, 23-year-old Kyle Freeland started the Coors Field opener against LA, lasted six innings and allowed one run. So far he is 3-1 with a 2.65 ERA. Even younger starter Antonio Senzatela (22) recently was named National League rookie of the month thanks to his 4-1 record and 2.84 ERA.
The Rockies have tried everything short of Voodoo to help pitchers adjust to the hitters’ environment known as Coors Field, but nothing has clicked. Black, who pitched in the major leagues for 15 years, told Hannah Dowdy of Mile High Sports that the “stigma of Coors Field can be overcome with the right attitude and a short memory.”
That combination just might be the reason the Rockies find themselves in an enviable position in the division more than a month into the 2017 season.