Vol. 1: NL West Weekly Wrap-Up
Here at Baseball Hot Corner some of the writers are starting a new weekly series, a wrap up of the state of each division. Each writer will nominate a position player of the week, pitcher of the week, team-by-team recaps and power rankings for their chosen division.
This is the first edition of the NL West Weekly Wrap-Up which you will be able to find here on BHC every Monday throughout the entire season. Let’s get to it!
Perhaps no division in pro baseball has as many built-in storylines at the beginning of the season as the NL West. With the reigning World Champion San Francisco Giants in house, along with the Los Angeles Dodgers, picked by many to win it all this year, and the San Diego Padres, a team that created a lot of stir in the off-season with a near complete roster over-haul, things figure to be interesting on the left coast.
However, with the attention on the Big 3, it was easy for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks—neither predicted to challenge beyond peskiness in the west, to steal the show in week one.
Yes, it’s early, but there were plenty of signs telling us the NL West will be a dogfight to the end. For now, let’s take a look at week 1.
The D-Backs had the fortune of hosting the defending champion Giants for their first series. The young snakes put forth a great effort on Opening Day, barely falling to the Giants and ace Madison Bumgarner 5-4. They didn’t let up in the second game and evened up the series behind bombs from David Peralta and Jake Lamb. After dropping the finale against San Francisco, the Diamondbacks welcomed the Dodgers to the desert and shocked them with a 10th-inning walk-off victory. That must have been a big confidence booster for the team going into game 2 as rookie RHP Archie Bradley bested 2-time NL Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw in the 6-0 win. LA would not stand for a sweep, though, and took game three. Not that anyone thought Arizona would get crushed night-after-night, but its three first week wins—one against the world champs and a pair against the rival Dodgers has to have new manager Chip Hale feeling pretty good.
The Rockies are a team no one has talked much about before this season. That is a surprise since they boast some of the biggest young bats in MLB. Colorado showed those off early in Milwaukee, out-bashing the Brew-Crew 20-6 in three games. Nearly the entire Rockie line-up can be listed here with contributions at the plate in Wisconsin led by Corey Dickerson’s 2 HR and 9 RBI. The winless Cubs turned the tables on the Rockies in game two of their series in the Rocky Mountains hitting three bombs and handing Colorado its first loss. In the finale, Colorado seemed in control going into the last frame, when LaTroy Hawkins gave up a two-out, two-run tater to Dexter Fowler giving Chicago the lead and the eventual victory. Most signs point to a very positive start for Colorado. Troy Tulowitzki, Nolen Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez will lead this team with offensive production, it will be up to the pitching to stay stingy to keep Colorado going upward.
Los Angeles Dodgers
With all the pressure there seems to be on the Dodgers, it certainly doesn’t seem to affect Clayton Kershaw. The ace lefty, however, was a bit underwhelming, as he took the mound twice in week 1. He received a no-decision in the opener, but his team got the win over the Padres. Zack Greinke and Tyson Ross had a nice pitchers duel going in game 2, before San Diego got to the Dodgers bullpen and legged out a 7-4 win. Free agent signee Brandon McCarthy earned the win in the finale, but it was Adrian Gonzalez’ three home runs that led the charge. Los Angeles’ shaky first week definitely got off to a bad start in Arizona where they dropped the first two games, including Kershaw’s first loss, but were able to salvage the weekend by winning behind Grienke. The Dodgers are sure Kershaw will get back to form, but the early concern has to be with slugger Yasiel Puig, who found an early seat on the bench after collecting just three hits in his first 22 at-bats.
San Diego Padres
So far, so good for the Padres. They handled the bright lights of opening week being touted as a contender and actually came out of the week looking like an “early team to beat.” Despite dropping two-out-of-three to open the campaign in LA, the new-look Padres pitched and hit well enough to win all three. Taking three-out-of-four from the champs in Petco Park, including a solid beating of Bumgarner, opened some eyes in the later part of the week. James Shields and Tyson Ross both earned wins in their second starts and each could easily be 2-0. With the addition of closer Craig Kimbrel, Joaquin Benoit moved into a set-up roll and grabbed a pair of W’s. That speaks well for San Diego being resilient to stay in games even though not getting leads for its starter. As the weather heats up, so will the Padre bats and beware the rest of the west.
San Francisco Giants
It’s not easy to repeat as a champion. Especially when you earned that crown by getting hot at the right time. Oh, that and having a dominant ace on your staff. The Giants showed their typical signs of being a tough team to beat in the opening series in Arizona, but they were playing the young Diamondbacks. When they had to roll south for a four-game stint in San Diego, the tide looked to be turning. San Francisco had to push the Padres into the 12th inning to score a single game-winning run to spoil the opener for San Diego. The nearly unrecognizable Giant line-up managed only six hits in that game and fared even worse the next day with only five hits in a 1-0 loss. In a WS rematch, of sorts, Bumgarner went down hard to Pads ace Shields and the home team dominated the whole game winning 10-2. San Francisco could not rebound in the finale on Sunday and lost its third straight to the Padres, proving its not easy being the defending champion and facing a hungry young upstart in their ballpark. Should be interesting in round two with these two clubs.
Position Player of the Week: Adrian Gonzalez- .609 BA, 5 HR, 7 RBI, 8 R, 1.391 SLG
Pitcher of the Week: Zack Greinke- 13 IP, 1-0, 0.69 ERA, 11 K
- San Diego Padres 4-3
- Colorado Rockies 4-2
- Los Angeles Dodgers 3-3
- Arizona Diamondbacks 3-3
- San Francisco Giants 3-4
Don’t forget to check back every Monday for updates on your favorite division! The BHC writers will bring you a summary of EVERY division each week!