With roughly 25 games to go the National League West remains well and truly up for grabs. As of Tuesday three teams are within two games of each other and quite frankly anything could happen. The Colorado Rockies nosed ahead Monday to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers due to one less loss. With two more losses and one less win sit the Arizona Diamondbacks in third. Eight games back we have the San Francisco Giants, but t would take a miracle for them to win this division. So which of the three main contenders have the best roster for making the run to division victory? What about the other teams, can they even claim a Wildcard spot in 2018?
The Diamondbacks may be losing any chance they have of winning this division. Their remaining out of division games include facing the NL Central leading Cubs, NL East leading Braves and the AL West leading Astros. Given how tough that schedule is they will need to beat their rivals, with seven games against the Rockies and three games against the Dodgers. The positive is that they get to face the bottom dwelling San Diego Padres in the last three games of the season but as they proved Monday that is no gimme.
Roster wise they have their guys mostly healthy, Jake Lamb and Shelby Miller are the biggest misses. Zack Grienke, Patrick Corbin and Clay Buchholz are the strong part of this rotation. However, they will need good months from Robbie Ray and Zack Godley, who have 4.55 and 4.51 ERAs this season respectively. Hitting wise they have a solid starting lineup but their depth is lacking. If they lose one of their outfielders or, even worse, Paul Goldschmidt their season is likely over.
At this stage it looks a tough call for them to even make the Wildcard as they currently sit two games back, with one of the tougher September schedules in the whole of baseball.
The Rockies need to continue their strong run which has seen them win three on the bounce to start September. The good news is they still have five games against the Giants. The bad news is they do not face the Padres again this season. Their out of division schedule is slightly easier than the Diamondbacks, but not much. They will end the season with seven games against the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals. The Nationals could be out of it by then but the Phillies may still be competing for the NL East. Really their division fate is in their hands with seven games against the Diamondbacks and six against the Dodgers.
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Their rotation is the weakest of all of the teams, with only Kyle Freeland havign an ERA below four, 2.96. They do have talent though in the shape of Jon Gray, who they will need a huge month from if they are to have any chance of staying atop this division. They have a really powerful starting lineup and decent depth on their bench. To win this division they will need their hitters to have a really good month to make sure they outscore their opposition.
This is a tough one to call because honestly I never expected the Rockies to still be in this. Their pitching could be what lets them down and the trouble is that with the amount of divisional games they could find themselves struggling to even make it into the Wildcard spots if they fail to win this division.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have stormed back into this division race, winning eight of their last 10 games. Things are looking good for them in September, with two games the New York Mets and three games against the Cincinnati Reds, the Giants and the Padres. That means 11 of their final 24 games are against relatively sub-standard opponents. They also have three games against the St. Louis Cardinals, which could be huge for the Wildcard stakes, and 10 more games against their two division rivals, seven versus the Rockies and three against the Diamondbacks.
Their rotation is really strong. You can basically pencil in a strong performance from Clayton Kershaw, and Rich Hill’s 3.59 ERA is the current worst of the rotation. In addition, they have Ross Stripling likely to return in the next week or so, who is 8-3 with a 2.62 ERA this season. Their hitters are extremely interesting. Their lineup is very strong but their bench feels extremely underwhelming, especially for a team with their wealth. However, for a month they should be able to lean on their 10 or 11 most trusted hitters to do enough to get them to the playoffs.
Right now the Dodgers remain my favorite for the West. Their rotation is the best top-to-bottom and their schedule looks the best of the three contenders. However, even if they fail to win the division then sweeping the Cardinals in their series with them could be enough to carry them to a Wildcard berth.
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