BC-BBN--NL West Preview Capsules
Capsules of National League West teams, listed in order of finish last year:
Los Angeles Dodgers
2018: 92-71, first place, lost to Boston in World Series.
Manager: Dave Roberts (fourth season).
He’s Here: CF A.J. Pollock, RHP Joe Kelly, C Russell Martin, LHP Adam McCreery.
He’s Outta Here: SS Manny Machado, OF Matt Kemp, OF Yasiel Puig, C Yasmani Grandal, LHP Alex Wood, 2B Brian Dozier, RHP Ryan Madson, C Kyle Farmer, 2B Chase Utley, RHP John Axford, RHP Josh Fields, RHP Daniel Hudson, LHP-RHP Pat Venditte.
Projected Lineup: LF Joc Pederson (.248, 25 HRs, 56 RBIs) or LF-2B-SS Chris Taylor (.254, 17, 63, team-high 178 Ks in 155 games), 3B Justin Turner (.312, 14, 52), SS Corey Seager (.267, 2, 13 in 26 games before elbow and hip operations), 1B-2B Max Muncy (.263, 35, 79, .973 OPS) or 1B-3B David Freese (.282, 9, 42 with Pirates; .385, 2, 9 with Dodgers), CF A.J. Pollock (.257, 21, 65 with Arizona), RF Cody Bellinger (.260, 25, 76, 151 Ks in 162 games), 2B-SS-OF Enrique Hernandez (.256, 21, 52), C Austin Barnes (.205, 4, 14 in 200 ABs) or Russell Martin (.194, 10, 25 with Toronto).
Rotation: LH Clayton Kershaw (9-5, 2.73 ERA, team-high 155 Ks), RH Walker Buehler (8-5, 2.62, 151 Ks in 137 1/3 IP), LH Rich Hill (11-5, 3.66, 150 Ks), LH Hyun-Jin Ryu (7-3, 1.97), RH Kenta Maeda (8-10, 3.81), RH Ross Stripling (8-6, 3.02, 136 Ks).
Key Relievers: RH Kenley Jansen (1-5, 3.01, 38/42 saves), RH Pedro Baez (4-3, 2.88), RH Joe Kelly (4-2, 4.39 with Boston), LH Caleb Ferguson (7-2, 3.49, 2 saves), RH Dylan Floro (3-1, 1.63), LH Scott Alexander (2-1, 3.68), RH J.T. Chargois (2-4, 3.34), LH Tony Cingrani (1-2, 4.76), RH Yimi Garcia (1-2, 5.64), LH Julio Urias (0-0, 0.00, 7 Ks, 4 IP in 3 games after returning from shoulder injury).
Hot Spot: Sore Arms. Kershaw won’t start on opening day and is expected to begin the season on the injured list, ending his streak of pitching eight straight openers. The three-time Cy Young Award winner dealt with left shoulder inflammation during spring training. Buehler, coming off a stellar rookie season, had a sore shoulder early this spring and didn’t make his first Cactus League appearance until there was a week left in camp. Those injuries, in addition Cingrani opening the season on the injured list, could present Urias with a role working multiple innings in relief. Urias gained valuable experience in the 2018 postseason.
Outlook: Roberts received a contract extension through 2022, and the Dodgers are favorites to win a seventh straight NL West title. Seager is expected to be ready for opening day, having recovered from Tommy John surgery and a hip operation. Martin, a four-time All-Star who helped lead Los Angeles to three straight playoff appearances during his first stint with the team from 2006-10, will add a veteran presence to the clubhouse. Jansen had a heart procedure during the offseason and is looking to return to dominance. Pollock signed a $55 million, four-year deal in January to be the everyday center fielder. Kelly came over from Boston to be the setup man for Jansen.
2018: 91-72, second place, wild card, lost to Milwaukee in Division Series.
Manager: Bud Black (third season).
He’s Here: 1B Daniel Murphy, 1B Mark Reynolds.
He’s Outta Here: 2B DJ LeMahieu, RHP Adam Ottavino, OF Carlos Gonzalez, OF Matt Holliday, OF Gerardo Parra, C Drew Butera.
Projected Lineup: RF Charlie Blackmon (.291, 29 HRs, 70 RBIs), 3B Nolan Arenado (.297, 38, 110), 1B Daniel Murphy (.299, 12, 42 with Nationals and Cubs), SS Trevor Story (.291, 37, 108), LF David Dahl (.273, 16, 48), CF Ian Desmond (.236, 22, 88), 2B Ryan McMahon (.232, 5, 19 in 181 ABs), C Chris Iannetta (.224, 11, 36).
Rotation: LH Kyle Freeland (17-7, 2.85 ERA, lowest full-season ERA for starting pitcher in team history), RH German Marquez (14-11, 3.76, club-record 230 Ks), RH Jon Gray (12-9, 5.12, 183 Ks), LH Tyler Anderson (7-9, 4.55), RH Antonio Senzatela (6-6, 4.38) or RH Chad Bettis (5-2, 5.06 as starter and reliever).
Key Relievers: RH Wade Davis (3-6, 4.13, led NL with team-record 43/49 saves), RH Scott Oberg (8-1, 2.46), RH Seunghwan Oh (2-0, 2.57 with Rockies; 4-3, 2.68 with Toronto), LH Chris Rusin (2-3, 6.20), LH Jake McGee (2-4, 6.49), RH Bryan Shaw (4-6, 5.93), LH Mike Dunn (0-0, 9.00 in 25 games).
Hot Spot: Second Base. Colorado could take a look at McMahon, Garrett Hampson or Pat Valaika to fill the void left by LeMahieu, who’s now with the New York Yankees. On the horizon could be prospect Brendan Rodgers, a first-round draft pick in 2015.
Outlook: The Rockies were certainly busy this spring, locking up Arenado with a $260 million, eight-year contract and signing Black to an extension that runs through the 2022 season. Now, they have to prove to Arenado they’re serious about winning. The four-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glove winner can opt out after the 2021 season. This team made has it to the playoffs two straight seasons for the first time in franchise history, but the Rockies are still chasing their first NL West title. They’re switching things up by moving Blackmon from center field to right and sending Desmond from first base to center. Murphy will step in at first base. It’s a formidable lineup from top to bottom, with Arenado moving to the No. 2 spot. Story is coming off the best of his three big league seasons after hitting 37 homers and stealing 27 bases in 2018. He also made his first All-Star appearance. “We’re heading in the right direction,” Story said.
2018: 82-80, third place.
Manager: Torey Lovullo (third season).
He’s Here: RHP Luke Weaver, C Carson Kelly, OF Adam Jones, INF Wilmer Flores, RHP Greg Holland.
He’s Outta Here: 1B Paul Goldschmidt, CF A.J. Pollock, LHP Patrick Corbin, C Jeff Mathis, INF Daniel Descalso, RHP Clay Buchholz, OF Jon Jay, INF-OF Chris Owings, RHP Brad Boxberger, RHP Randall Delgado, LHP Jake Diekman, RHP Shelby Miller, RHP Brad Ziegler, C Chris Stewart.
Projected Lineup: 2B Ketel Marte (.260, 14 HRs, 59 RBIs), 3B Eduardo Escobar (.272, 23, 84 with Minnesota and Arizona), LF David Peralta (.293, 30, 84), RF Steven Souza Jr. (.220, 5, 29), 1B Jake Lamb (.222, 6, 31), CF Adam Jones (.281, 15, 63 with Baltimore), SS Nick Ahmed (.234, 16, 70), C Carson Kelly (.114, 0, 3 with St. Louis).
Rotation: RH Zack Greinke (15-11 3.21 ERA), LH Robbie Ray (6-2, 3.93), RH Zack Godley (15-11, 4.74), RH Luke Weaver (7-11, 4.95 with St. Louis), RH Merrill Kelly (first big league season).
Key Relievers: RH Archie Bradley (4-5, 3.64, 3 saves), RH Greg Holland (2-2, 4.66 with St. Louis and Washington), RH Yoshihisa Hirano (4-3, 2.44), RH Andrew Chafin (1-6, 3.10).
Hot Spot: Closer. The competition between Bradley and Holland was underwhelming through the spring as both candidates struggled. Bradley had some issues in late innings last season and has been bothered by a stiff neck this spring, but has a high-velocity fastball and the personality for the closer’s role. Holland was once one of baseball’s best closers before getting injured, but had an up-and-down 2018 season.
Outlook: The Diamondbacks are hoping to contend again, even with Goldschmidt in St. Louis. Losing one of baseball’s best players and a fan favorite is a huge hit, though Arizona still has some quality players and added veterans such as Jones and Flores. The Diamondbacks are hoping Lamb can make the transition from third base to first and regain the form he had before shoulder surgery last season.
San Francisco Giants
2018: 73-89, fourth place.
Manager: Bruce Bochy (13th season).
He’s Here: LHP Drew Pomeranz, OF Gerardo Parra, C Rene Rivera, OF Cameron Maybin, OF Drew Ferguson, C Stephen Vogt, LHP Travis Bergen, INF Yangervis Solarte.
He’s Outta Here: OF Hunter Pence, OF Gregor Blanco, OF Gorkys Hernandez, C Nick Hundley, RHP Hunter Strickland, RHP Derek Law.
Projected Lineup: CF Steven Duggar (.255, 2 HRs, 17 RBIs), 2B Joe Panik (.254, 4, 24), C Buster Posey (.284, 5, 41), 1B Brandon Belt (.253, 14, 46), 3B Evan Longoria (.244, 16, 54), SS Brandon Crawford (.254, 14, 54), RF Gerardo Parra (.284, 6, 53 with Rockies), LF Mac Williamson (.213, 4, 11).
Rotation: LH Madison Bumgarner (6-7, 3.26 ERA), LH Derek Holland (7-9, 3.57), RH Dereck Rodriguez (6-4, 2.81), LH Drew Pomeranz (2-6, 6.08 with Red Sox), RH Jeff Samardzija (1-5, 6.25).
Key Relievers: LH Will Smith (2-3, 2.55, 14/18 saves), LH Tony Watson (4-6, 2.59), RH Mark Melancon (1-4, 3.23, 3 saves), RH Sam Dyson (4-3, 2.69, 3 saves), LH Reyes Moronta (5-2, 2.49, 1 save).
Hot Spot: Outfield. After making a failed run in free agency at Bryce Harper, the Giants go into the season with no power in their outfield. The projected starters combined for just 12 homers last season, and Parra’s 14 long balls in 2015 are the most for any of the three in a single season. Not exactly like the old days when Barry Bonds could hit that many in a month. Even the possible reserves such as Maybin, Ferguson and Austin Slater aren’t exactly sluggers, giving little hope that there’s an answer for 2019 in the organization.
Outlook: The Giants are a team in transition after a two-year stretch of 187 losses that was the worst for the franchise since 1984-85. Bochy has already announced this is his last season after winning three World Series titles in San Francisco. Farhan Zaidi was hired as president of baseball operations but didn’t make a splash in his first offseason, with the biggest addition being Pomeranz, who struggled last season for Boston. There’s even uncertainty regarding ownership, with President and CEO Larry Baer on a leave of absence after the release of a video showing him in a physical altercation with his wife. There are still a few key pieces left from a team that made the playoffs in 2016, most notably Posey, Bumgarner, Crawford and Belt. But with Posey coming off hip surgery and Bumgarner a possible trade candidate in the final year of his deal, that core might not be in place for long, either. The rotation is lacking behind Bumgarner, with Johnny Cueto recovering from Tommy John surgery. With few high-end prospects in the upper ranks of the minors, the Giants appear to be in for another rebuilding year and could be in line to win fewer than 75 games in three straight full seasons for the first time since 1900-02.
San Diego Padres
2018: 66-96, fifth place.
Manager: Andy Green (fourth season).
He’s Here: 3B Manny Machado, 2B Ian Kinsler, INF Greg Garcia, RHP Garrett Richards.
He’s Outta Here: SS Freddy Galvis, LHP Clayton Richard, INF Carlos Asuaje, C A.J. Ellis.
Projected Lineup: 2B Ian Kinsler (.240, 14 HRs, 48 RBIs with Angels and Red Sox), 1B Eric Hosmer (.253, 18, 69), 3B Manny Machado (.297, 37, 107 with Orioles and Dodgers), RF Franmil Reyes (.280, 16, 31), CF Wil Myers (.253, 11, 39), LF Hunter Renfroe (.248, 26, 68), SS Luis Urias (.208, 2, 5 in 12 games), C Austin Hedges (.231, 14, 37).
Rotation: LH Joey Lucchesi (8-9, 4.08 ERA), LH Eric Lauer (6-7, 4.34), RH Chris Paddack (7-3, 2.10 at Class A and Double-A), LH Matt Strahm (3-4, 2.05), LH Logan Allen (14-6, 2.54 at Double-A and Triple-A) or RH Cal Quantrill (9-6, 4.80 at Double-A and Triple-A).
Key Relievers: RH Kirby Yates (5-3, 2.14, 12 saves), RH Craig Stammen (8-3, 2.73), RH Robert Stock (1-1, 2.50), RH Adam Warren (3-2, 3.14 with Yankees and Mariners), LH Aaron Loup (0-0, 4.54 with Toronto and Philadelphia), RH Phil Maton (0-2, 4.37), LH Robbie Erlin (4-7, 4.21), RH Bryan Mitchell (2-4, 5.42).
Hot Spot: Starting Rotation. It’s still young and somewhat inexperienced. Lucchesi and Lauer made their big league debuts last season. Paddack wowed everyone at spring training and most likely won a spot. Lucchesi is expected to make the opening day start against San Francisco at Petco Park. Fans will see more and more of the farm system’s vaunted pitchers, starting with Paddack and likely including Allen and Quantrill.
Outlook: The signing of Machado to a $300 million, 10-year contract made the Padres relevant, even if they do miss the playoffs for the 13th straight year. It at least gets them closer to expectations of being competitive by next season or 2021. The next big addition is expected to be top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., the 20-year-old shortstop and son of a former big leaguer. Tatis is expected to make his debut at some point this season. Hosmer, whose $144 million, eight-year deal had been the team’s biggest contract before the Machado signing, is looking for a bounce-back season after struggling in his first year with San Diego. Myers moves from third base, where he struggled late last season, back to center field.
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