MLB Mid-Season Review: NL West
With the MLB All-Star game approaching, this can be a great time in the season to step back and look at how things are playing out. The NL West is routinely one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, and this year is no different.
Here's how the NL West is shaping about half-way through
Los Angeles Dodgers:
Over the last few seasons, the Dodgers have been a mainstay at the top of this division
, due to some dominant pitching and a potent offense. While some of those things have changed this year, the dodgers are still competing for the division crown, and have spent the season jockeying with the Giants for first place.
Luckily, the dodgers still possess that potent lineup that features veterans Justin Turner, Adrian Gonzalez, and Andre Ethier who have all hit at .275 or above with plenty of power, as well. While star outfielder, Yasiel Puig, has missed time due to a hamstring, his return only bolsters a lineup that features future stars Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal.
Pitching has been a bit of an issue for the Dodgers however. While Zack Grienke is carrying the staff; Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw, has struggled at times this season. The Dodgers pitching is too good to struggle for a whole season, which is bad news for everyone else.
San Francisco Giants:
While the defending World Series champions have been in battle for first place, their pitching hasn't been quite as good, causing them to rely on outscoring other teams.
The Giants lineup is getting solid contributions from all over the diamond. Buster Posey is solid as ever behind the plate, and is top three on the team in runs, hits, homeruns, and walks. He's also getting plenty of help from the likes of Nori Aoki, Joe Panik, and Brandon Crawford.
The pitching has been a different story. Madison Bumgarner has been stellar once again, but they have major parts of their staff on the DL including: Jake Peavy, Matt Cain, and Jean Machi; all of whom, are due back in the near future. Once the Giants get healthy, they could be dangerous.
You can't sleep on the D-backs though, while their pitching has been nothing to speak of this year, they can still score runs.
Offensively, the Diamondbacks may possess the best hitter
in the bigs; Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt has been crushing the ball this season, keeping his average above .350 the whole way. He leads the team in runs, hits, doubles, homeruns, walks, and is second in stolen bases.
Past him however, the Diamondbacks seriously lack the offensive firepower to compete. Compounding those offensive problems is a complete lack of starting pitching; four of their starter's E.R.A's have hovered close to 5.00 all season. Goldschmidt will give teams problems this year, but the D-backs probably won't.
San Diego Padres:
The Padres made the biggest offseason splash in their acquiring of Matt Kemp, Wil Meyers, and Justin Upton. They made another big splash early in the season when they received Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr. from the Atlanta Braves. However, those moves haven't really paid off like they had hoped.
While Justin Upton and Will Meyers have been producing at expected rates, Matt Kemp has been limited in his abilities at the plate with his average hovering around .250, and the power once seen in his bat has been non-existent, limiting his home run output. However, with the recent return of Melvin Upton Jr. from an injury, the Padres
lineup could get some much needed help to compete out West.
The pitching hasn't been outstanding either, while it still hasn't been terrible, it will need to improve if they want to climb to the top spot. While James Shields and Tyson Ross have been solid, the rest of the starters leave much to be desired. The near future return of starter Brandon Morrow will help stabilize the pitching staff, and could be a factor in the Padres making a late playoff push.
The Rockies are having just that kind of season, rocky. With rumors swirling around the possible trade of all-star shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies have struggled to win games in a ball park notorious for its high scores.
Part of this problem has been the starting pitching, which has been incredibly inconsistent all year long. While the bullpen has been strong, with John Axeford holding things down in the ninth inning, it is the first 7 that have been a problem with this team. Even with their struggles, they aren't out of it yet. If a few hitters turn their seasons around, and pitchers step the Rockies could drastically improve this season.