If I were to tell you in March that the Dodgers would be leading the NL West at the end of June, you’d most likely laugh it off and ask me if I got that bet at -250 odds. At least that much was predictable. But, as you take a gander at the NL West standings, disbelief begins to set in. The San Francisco Giants trail only the Philadelphia Phillies when it comes to games lost and almost certainly are leading the league in games blown. The Arizona Diamondbacks have stayed the course and strung together many series wins, and before a recent eight-game losing streak bender the Rockies were 47-26.
So what in the world is happening in the wild, wild west? Well, that’s quite the loaded question—where to begin? Let’s go ahead and start from the top. The LA Dodgers are a really good team, and I don’t even need to pull up the stats to prove that; but, I’m going to do it anyways because that’s the only way I know how to. With a team ERA of 3.23, it’s no surprise that the Dodgers have dominated the rest of the NL (Central and East) thus far. In a year loaded with home runs, the Dodgers pitching staff has managed to allow only 84 HR, 3rd best in the league. That’s just a bit above 1 per game. Look no further than the strikeout numbers to see why opposing teams struggle to touch this loaded pitching staff, despite the many injuries incurred.
But, how about the Giants? Madison Bumgarner decided he couldn’t wait until the fall to ride his dirt bike and ended up on the DL for practically half the season. He managed to not only sink one of my fantasy teams, but also seems to have taken a large toll on his team. Sure, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija should be able to carry the load; but with their dumpster fire bullpen, the Giants need every starter to go as deep as possible every 5th day when they get the chance. Oh, and did I mention their bats? .243 batting average with a league worst .676 OPS. To put that in perspective, even Adam Wainwright has an OPS of .679. So, basically imagine a team with slightly above average pitchers swinging the bat every time. Yikes.
As for the Dbacks and Rockies, those are two narratives that share a few traits like high octane offense but differ in many others. The Diamondbacks have relied on solid pitching thus far, including a large bounce-back from Zack Greinke and the emergence of Robbie Ray en route to allowing the second fewest runs in the bigs (behind who else, but the Dodgers). Meanwhile, the Rockies have thrived under pressure winning many close games, including a league-best 11-3 mark in one-run games this year (though extra inning games have not been quite as kind).
If you’re a Padres fan, this is the point where you think to yourself: “Finally, it’s my turn to hear about how we’re not the worst team in the division.” Well, save it San Diego! Just because you’re not the worst doesn’t afford you the right to real estate in this blog. Let me know when you either have a shot at playing .500 ball or at least have a borderline Cooperstown guy. Until then, long live Trevor Hoffman. Happy July everyone, enjoy the All-Star break.