NL West Preview Capsules
Capsules of National League West teams, listed in order of finish last year:
Los Angeles Dodgers
2019: 106-56, first place, lost to Nationals in Division Series.
Manager: Dave Roberts (fifth season).
He’s Here: OF Mookie Betts, LHP David Price (chose to sit out season), LHP Alex Wood, RHP Blake Treinen, RHP Jimmy Nelson (back surgery, will miss season), RHP Brusdar Graterol.
He’s Outta Here: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, RHP Kenta Maeda, LHP Rich Hill, OF Alex Verdugo, 1B David Freese, RHP Yimi Garcia, 3B Jedd Gyorko, C Russell Martin, RHP JT Chargois, 2B Kristopher Negron.
Projected Lineup: RF Mookie Betts (.295, 29 HRs, 80 RBIs, 97 walks, career-high 101 Ks with Boston), 1B Max Muncy (.251, 35, 98, 90 walks, .374 OBP), 3B Justin Turner (.290, 27, 67) or Kiké Hernández (.237, 17, 64), CF Cody Bellinger (.305, 47, 115, 95 walks, .406 OBP, NL MVP), LF A.J. Pollock (.266, 15, 47), DH Joc Pederson (.249, 36, 74) or Hernandez or Pollock or Chris Taylor (.262, 15, 52), SS Corey Seager (.272, 19, 87), 2B Gavin Lux (.240, 2, 9), C Will Smith (.253, 15, 42) or Austin Barnes (.203, 25, 5).
Rotation: LH Clayton Kershaw (16-5, 3.03 ERA), RH Walker Buehler (14-4, 3.26, team-high 215 Ks), LHP Julio Urias (4-3, 2.49, 4 saves), LHP Alex Wood (1-3, 5.80).
Key Relievers: RH Kenley Jansen (5-3, 3.71, 33/41 saves), RH Joe Kelly (5-4, 4.56), RH Blake Treinen (6-5, 4.91, 16 saves with Oakland), RH Pedro Baez (7-2, 3.10), LH Adam Kolarek (2-0, 0.77, 11 2/3 IP), RH Ross Stripling (4-4, 3.47 in 32 games, 15 starts), LH Scott Alexander (3-2, 3.63), RH Dylan Floro (5-3, 4.24), LH Caleb Ferguson (1-2, 4.84), RH Dennis Santana (0-0, 7.20), RH Tony Gonsolin (4-2, 2.93), RH Dustin May (2-3, 3.63).
Outlook: The Dodgers will be without one of their two major offseason acquisitions when the delayed 60-game season begins. Price decided to sit out, citing concerns about exposing his wife and children to the coronavirus. That opens the No. 3 slot in the rotation for possibly Baez, Gonsolin or May. Betts, the 2018 AL MVP with Boston, enters his first season in Los Angeles and final season before free agency with a short schedule to prove he deserves a contract worth hundreds of millions. The powerful lineup also includes NL MVP Bellinger, who hit .379 through the first two months of the season before tailing off to .262 the rest of the way. The offense led the NL with 279 home runs last year. Three-time All-Star closer Jansen, coming off the worst ERA of his career, reported to summer camp late after testing positive for COVID-19. Also out for the season is Nelson, who had recent back surgery. The Dodgers’ bullpen was second in the NL with 29 blown saves last season. The team signed Treinen to a $10 million, one-year deal, gambling that he can return from shoulder and back problems that nagged him last season and return to the All-Star form he showed in Oakland in 2018. The Dodgers won their seventh consecutive NL West title by 21 games over Arizona last year and set a franchise record with 106 wins, second in the majors to Houston’s 107. They were especially good at home with a 59-22 mark. But they remain in pursuit of their first World Series championship since 1988.
2019: 85-77, second place.
Manager: Torey Lovullo (fourth season).
He’s Here: LHP Madison Bumgarner, C Stephen Vogt, OF Kole Calhoun, OF Starling Marte, OF Jon Jay, C John Hicks, RHP Héctor Rondón, RHP Junior Guerra.
He’s Outta Here: INF Wilmer Flores, OF Adam Jones, OF Jarrod Dyson, C Alex Avila, RHP Matt Andriese, RHP Mike Leake (opted out of 2020 season), LHP T.J. McFarland, RHP Yoshihisa Hirano.
Projected Lineup: CF Starling Marte (.295, 23 HRs, 82 RBIs, 25 SBs with Pirates), 2B Ketel Marte (.329, 32, 92, 36 2Bs), LF David Peralta (.275, 12, 57), 3B Eduardo Escobar (.269, 35, 118, 29 2Bs, 10 3Bs), 1B Christian Walker (.259, 29, 73), RF Kole Calhoun (.232, 33, 74 with Angels), DH Jake Lamb (.193, 6, 30), C Carson Kelly (.245, 18, 47), SS Nick Ahmed (.254, 19, 82).
Rotation: LH Madison Bumgarner (9-9, 3.90 ERA, 207 2/3 IP with Giants), LH Robbie Ray (12-8, 4.34, 235 Ks), RH Luke Weaver (4-3, 2.94), RH Zac Gallen (3-6, 2.81 with Marlins and Diamondbacks), RH Merrill Kelly (13-14, 4.42) or RH Alex Young (7-5, 3.56).
Key Relievers: RH Archie Bradley (4-5, 3.52, 18 saves), RH Yoan Lopez (2-7, 3.41, 70 appearances), LH Andrew Chafin (2-2, 3.76, 77 appearances), RH Héctor Rondón (3-2, 3.71 with Astros), RH Junior Guerra (9-5, 3.55, 72 appearances with Brewers), RH Kevin Ginkel (3-0, 1.48).
Outlook: The Diamondbacks spent the offseason upgrading their roster in hopes of catching the Dodgers, who have won seven straight NL West titles. Arizona’s biggest addition was Bumgarner, who was signed to an $85 million, five-year deal and is expected to give the rotation a dependable option every five days. The D-backs also added some pop in the lineup with Calhoun and Starling Marte. Arizona should have a deep lineup with five players who hit at least 20 homers last season. The team also plays good defense, especially in the middle of the field with Ahmed and the two Martes. The Diamondbacks should be better than last season. Whether they improved enough to catch the mighty Dodgers remains to be seen.
San Francisco Giants
2019: 77-85, third place.
Manager: Gabe Kapler (first season).
He’s Here: Manager Gabe Kapler, RHP Kevin Gausman, LHP Drew Smyly, OF Hunter Pence, C Tyler Heineman, C Rob Brantly, OF Billy Hamilton, 1B/OF Darin Ruf, LHP Tyler Anderson.
He’s Outta Here: Manager Bruce Bochy, C Buster Posey (chose to sit out season), LHP Madison Bumgarner, LHP Will Smith, CF Kevin Pillar, C Stephen Vogt, LHP Fernando Abad, OF Mike Gerber.
Projected Lineup: RF Mike Yastrzemski (.272, 21 HRs, 55 RBIs), 1B Brandon Belt (.234, 17, 57, 32 2Bs), 3B Evan Longoria (.254, 20, 69), LF Alex Dickerson (.276, 6, 28 with Giants and Padres), SS Brandon Crawford (.228, 11, 59), 2B Mauricio Dubon (.279, 4, 9), DH Hunter Pence (.297, 18, 59 with Rangers) or Wilmer Flores (.317, 9, 37 with Diamondbacks), C Tyler Heineman (.273, 1, 2 in 11 ABs with Marlins; .336, 13, 38 at Triple-A) or Rob Brantly (.314, 6, 28 at Triple-A in Phillies organization), CF Billy Hamilton (.218, 0, 15, 22 SBs for Royals and Braves) or Steven Duggar (.234, 4, 28).
Rotation: RH Johnny Cueto (1-2, 5.06 ERA in 4 September starts after returning from Tommy John surgery), RH Jeff Samardzija (11-12, 3.52), RH Kevin Gausman (3-9, 5.72 in 31 appearances, 17 starts for Reds and Braves), LH Drew Smyly (4-7, 6.24 in 25 appearances with 21 starts, 1 save for Rangers and Phillies), RH Logan Webb (2-3, 5.22).
Key Relievers: LH Tony Watson (2-2, 4.17), RH Trevor Gott (7-0, 4.44), RH Reyes Moronta (3-7, 2.86), RH Tyler Rodgers (2-0, 1.02), RH Shaun Anderson (3-5, 5.44, 2 saves), LH Wandy Peralta (1-1, 5.67).
Outlook: It was already set to be a new era in San Francisco with Bochy retiring after 13 seasons and three World Series titles for the franchise, and longtime ace Bumgarner leaving in free agency. But then Posey opted out of the season in order to care for newly adopted twin girls born prematurely. The Giants made few impact moves this offseason in their second year of rebuilding under team president Farhan Zaidi as they try to avoid matching a franchise worst with four straight losing seasons. The team has only done that twice in the modern era: 2005-08 and 1974-77. San Francisco is hoping the shortened season will help Cueto, who made four starts late last year following a 13-month absence recovering from Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow.
2019: 71-91, fourth place.
Manager: Bud Black (fourth season).
Here’s Here: OF Matt Kemp, RHP Tyler Kinley, INF Chris Owings.
He’s Outta Here: LF Ian Desmond (opted to sit out this season), RHP Chad Bettis, LHP Tyler Anderson, RHP Seunghwan Oh, 1B-OF Yonder Alonso.
Projected Lineup: CF David Dahl (.302, 15 HRs, 61 RBIs, limited to 100 games due to injuries), SS Trevor Story (.294, 35, 85, 23 SBs), RF Charlie Blackmon (.314, 32, 86, hit .385 with runners in scoring position), 3B Nolan Arenado (.315, 41, 118, third in NL in hits with 185), 1B Daniel Murphy (.279, 13, 78), DH Matt Kemp (.200 in 20 games for Cincinnati), 2B Ryan McMahon (.250, 24, 83), LF Raimel Tapia (.275, 9, 44), C Tony Wolters (.262, 1, 42, career-high 42 runs).
Rotation: RH German Marquez (12-5, 4.76 ERA, 175 Ks in 174 innings), RH Jon Gray (11-8, 3.84, 150 Ks in 150 innings), LH Kyle Freeland (3-11, 6.73, 79 Ks, 104 1/3 innings), RH Antonio Senzatela (11-11, 6.71, 76 Ks in 124 2/3 innings), RH Peter Lambert (3-7, 7.25, 57 Ks in 89 1/3 innings as rookie), RH Jeff Hoffman (2-6, 6.56, 70 innings).
Key Relievers: RH Scott Oberg (6-1, 2.25, 5 saves), RH Bryan Shaw (3-2, 5.38, 70 games, 1 save), RH Wade Davis (1-6, 8.65, 15/18 saves), RH Jairo Diaz (6-4, 4.53 in 56 games), RH Carlos Estevez (2-2, 3.75 in 71 games), LH Jake McGee (0-2, 4.35 in 45 games).
Outlook: Gone from the lineup will be Desmond, who opted out to be with his family and help grow youth baseball in his Florida hometown. The Rockies hope to have Blackmon back in full swing when the season starts after the All-Star outfielder became the first big-name major league player known to have tested positive for the coronavirus. In this shortened 60-game season, the Rockies are hoping to avoid the slow start they had last season, when they began 3-12. They got back on track but went 15-38 through July and August, snapping a string of two straight playoff appearances. Team owner Dick Monfort made headlines during the winter by saying the Rockies would win 94 games (translated to about 35 in this truncated season). What’s more, Arenado, the face of the franchise, was agitated with a front office that made no big moves despite a 71-91 campaign. Arenado was third in the NL in hits (185) and total bases (343) in 2019, fifth in batting average (.315) and tied for fifth in homers (41). The Rockies locked up Story in January by signing him to a two-year, $27.5 million deal that avoided arbitration. Story remains eligible to become a free agent following the 2021 World Series. The team also signed Oberg, who was eligible for arbitration before reaching a $13 million, three-year deal. He could be the closer heading into the season if Davis doesn’t rediscover his form. The Rockies are banking on a turnaround season from Freeland, who finished fourth in 2018 NL Cy Young Award voting. That also applies to relievers Shaw, Davis and McGee.
San Diego Padres
2019: 70-92, fifth place.
Manager: Jayce Tingler (first season).
He’s Here: Manager Jayce Tingler, 2B Jurickson Profar, LF Tommy Pham, RF Trent Grisham, RHP Zach Davies, LHP Drew Pomeranz, RHP Pierce Johnson.
He’s Outta Here: Manager Andy Green, INF Luis Urias, LHP Eric Lauer, OF Hunter Renfroe.
Projected Lineup: SS Fernando Tatis Jr. (.317, 22 HRs, 53 RBIs, 16 SBs in 84 games), LF Tommy Pham (.273, 21, 68, 25 SBs with Tampa Bay), 3B Manny Machado (.256, 32, 81), 1B Eric Hosmer (.265, 22, 99), DH Wil Myers (.239, 18, 53), RF Trent Grisham (.231, 6, 24), 2B Jurickson Profar (.218, 20, 67 with Oakland), C Francisco Mejia (.265, 8, 22), CF Franchy Cordero (.330, 0, 1 in 9 games).
Rotation: RH Chris Paddack (9-7, 3.33 ERA, 153 Ks in 26 starts), RH Dinelson Lamet (3-5, 4.07 in 14 starts back from Tommy John surgery), RH Garrett Richards (0-1, 8.31 in 3 starts back from Tommy John surgery), RH Zach Davies (10-7, 3.55 with Milwaukee), LH Joey Lucchesi (10-10, 4.18).
Key Relievers: RH Kirby Yates (0-5, 1.19, MLB-high 41 saves), LH Drew Pomeranz (2-10, 4.85, 2 saves with San Francisco and Milwaukee), RH Emilio Pagán (4-2, 2.31, 20 saves with Tampa Bay), RH Craig Stammen (8-7, 3.29, 4 saves), RH Michel Baez (1-1, 3.03), LH David Bednar (0-2, 6.55), RH Andres Munoz (1-1, 3.91).
Outlook: The Padres believe they can make a playoff run in the 60-game season if Machado bounces back from a subpar first season in San Diego, Tatis stays healthy and a loaded bullpen delivers in support of a young rotation led by Paddack. The Padres haven’t had a winning season since 2010 or been to the playoffs since winning consecutive NL West titles in 2005 and 2006. They need Machado to be more productive at the plate. Tatis was third in NL Rookie of the Year voting last season, but played only 84 games and was shut down in mid-August with a stress reaction in his lower back. After that, the Padres continued their nosedive from a .500 record at the All-Star break. Tatis vows not to change his hard-charging style. Pomeranz and Pagán join a bullpen led by Yates. Tingler, a rookie manager, has to tie it all together while navigating through the many protocols necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. At 39, he’s the second-youngest skipper in the majors.
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