Covering The Bases: NL West

Covering The Bases: NL West

Opening Day is quickly approaching so let’s take a quick look at what each team looks like heading into the 2021 season. The NL West is up to kickoff the National League previews. 



 

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

PROJECTION 1ST NL WEST

 

NOTABLE NEWCOMERS

Trevor Bauer SP

 

NOTABLE DEPARTURES

Enrique Hernandez 2B/SS/OF

 

LINEUP

1 Betts

2 Seager

3 Bellinger

4 Muncy

5 Turner

6 Pollock

7 Smith

8 Lux

 

 

ROTATION

Kershaw

Buehler

Bauer

Urias

Price

 

CLOSER - Jansen

 

OUTLOOK

It’s hard to not pick the Dodgers to be back in the World Series again in 2021. This team is loaded with talent, and only got better with the signing of last year’s NL Cy Young award winner, Trevor Bauer. As if this pitching staff wasn’t already loaded. They led the majors in ERA last year, and that was without David Price who sat out due to covid concerns. Nobody wants to drop into Dodger stadium for a 3 game series and face Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Trevor Bauer. That is a nightmare for opposing  

hitters, and if you happen to miss them, Urias, Price, May, and Gonsolin still make for tough matchups. Kenley Jansen has been a solid closer, but velocity concerns might give Blake Treinen some save opportunities as well. Although we’ve heard this before about Jansen, so I wouldn’t get too concerned just yet. Opposing pitchers won’t have an easy go at it when they come into Dodger stadium on the other hand. They will be facing a lineup that led the majors in runs last season. Led by MVP candidate and do everything center-fielder Mookie Betts, (.292 16 HR 10 SB) in last year’s shortened season. The 16 homers from the leadoff spot tied A.J. Pollock for the team lead. Following him in the lineup-Bellinger (12), Seager (15), and Muncy (12), are all capable of hitting 40 homers in a 162 game season. To put it in perspective, Bellinger’s 12 projected out to 37 in a 162 game season. If Gavin Lux is able to improve on his early struggles, which he likely will, there are no weaknesses in this lineup. Winning 100 games seems like a pretty safe bet for the Dodgers in 2021. They are +350 (William Hill Sports Book) in Vegas, World Series odds. I might take that bet.

 

SAN DIEGO PADRES

PROJECTION 2ND NL WEST

 

NOTABLE NEWCOMERS

BLAKE SNELL

YU DARVISH

JOE MUSGROVE

 

NOTABLE DEPARTURES

NONE

 

LINEUP

1 Grisham OF

2 Hosmer 1B

3 Tatis Jr. SS

4 Machado 3B

5 Myers OF

6 Cronenworth 2B

7 Pham OF

8 Caratini C

 

ROTATION

Darvish

Lamet

Snell

Morejohn

Paddick

 

CLOSER – Pomeranz

 

OUTLOOK

The addition of Darvish and Blake Snell really has this year’s Padres primed for a playoff run for the 2nd year in a row. They already boast one of the better infields in the majors. And without Led by all everything shortstop FernandoTatis Jr. He has the talent to be a multiple time MVP. In his rookie season in 2019, he hit .317 with 22 homers and 16 stolen bases in just 84 games. Last season in 59 games he blasted 17 homers and stole 11 bases while hitting .277. He would be my pick to win the MVP this year. Machado is a proven veteran and one of the best pure hitters in baseball. Hosmer is a steady veteran with a World Series ring from his days in Kansas City. Cronenworth showed signs of greatness at times in his rookie season albeit slowing down towards the end. Also figured to see regular time is Hasean Kim, who comes over from Korea for his first season in the majors after finishing in the top 10 in home runs (30) RBI (109) runs scored (111), total bases (279) and steals (23) in the Korean Baseball Organization in 2020. He will most likely fill a utility role. The pitching staff should hold up well this year despite the loss of Ace Mike Clevinger for what could be most or all of the 2021 season. and be among the top 10 fantasy staffs in baseball. Darvish was better than he has ever been in 2020. Lamet is a strikeout machine, Snell is a former Cy Young winner, and Paddick only got better in his Sophomore season a year ago. The loss of a player like Clevinger doesn't hurt as much when you have talent like this behind him. I expect this to be a playoff team once again this year.

 

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

PROJECTION 3RD NL WEST

 

NOTABLE NEWCOMERS

Lastella 2B/SS

Desclafani SP

Sanchez SP

 

LINEUP

1 Lastella

2 Yastcremzki

3 Salano

4 Dickerson

5 Posey

6 Belt

7 Crawford

8 Dubon

 

ROTATION

Gausman

Cueoto

Desclafani

Wood

Aaron Sanchez

 

CLOSER - Jake McGee

 

OUTLOOK

There hasn't been much to celebrate in San Francisco lately when it comes to their beloved and storied Giants. It wasn't that long ago when Madison Bungarner and company were the favorite to win the NL West year in and year out. Bungarner is gone and seemingly the only remaining piece is the aging Buster Posey. That's a good guy to have around when you are trying to build a young team. You can't ask for a better leader and clubhouse guy than Posey. While he's not what he once was on the field, he's still very much valued in San Francisco. He now gets to mentor such players as Mike Yastrcremzki, grandson of former Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrcremzki. The family genes didn't skip a beat as the young Yaz has all the talent to be an elite player for years to come. The 2019 season was a breakout, or sample size of things to come as he hit .272, and swatted 21 homers in just 107 games. In the shortened 2020 season he led the league with 4 triples, while also hitting 10 home runs with a .297 average in 54 games. Lastella should help the offense at the top of the order, as he's shown consistent abilities to hit for average with a high on base percentage. Salano was somewhat of a surprise, he's now 34 years old with not much big league experience but he's hit .326 since joining the Giants in 2019. Dubon has looked good in spring ball and worked himself into an every day role by the time his rookie season ended last year. He might surprise with his power and is a capable hitter otherwise. The most glaring weakness for this team is when you look at the pitching staff. Gausman is not exactly your first choice to make an opening day start but that's where the Giants are right now. Cueto made a comeback from injury last season but looked nowhere near the pitcher he once was. Desclafani has struggled in his previous seasons while with the Reds. This is if not the worst, close to it staff in the majors. And without a lineup that will scare many opposing pitchers, the Giants will be using this year as a build for the future.

 

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

PROJECTION 4TH NL WEST

 

NOTABLE NEWCOMERS

Asdrubal Cabrera

 

NOTABLE DEPARTURES

None

 

LINEUP

1 Peralta OF

2 Marte 2B /OF

3 Escobar 3B

4 Walker 1B

5 Rohas 2B

6 Kelly C

7 Pavin Smith OF

8 Ahmed SS

 

ROTATION

Bungarner

Weaver

Caleb Smith

Merrill Kelly

Taylor Clarke

*Zach Gallen

 

OUTLOOK

 

Zach Gallen was diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his right forearm and is doubtful to be ready to pitch for at least the first month of the season. He was a clear number one quality starter in 2020. If he's unable to make it back soon, it will be a long season for the Diamondbacks, mostly due to the quality of the rest of the rotation. Bumgarner struggled mightily in 2020 and looked a shell of his old self, and none of the other options have had much success with the exception of Weaver who has shown the ability to be an effective starter. But he also had his share of struggles in the '20 season. The offense is not a bad one. They added utility player Cabrera who can play multiple spots in the infield and should be a steady bat as well. Marte is a solid hitter and still young. He hit 327 in 2019 over 549 at bats. His numbers dropped last season but he still hit a respectable .287, Peralta hit an even 300 last year and had 30 long balls in 2018. Escobar (. 212 4 HR) in '20, wasn't the same player who hit 35 homers the year before. Walker is a good hitter that wants to break into the next echelon it seems, but he isn't quite there yet. Bottom line, this team needs a healthy Gallen to even think about a playoff run.

 

COLORADO ROCKIES

PROJECTION-LAST NL WEST

 

NOTABLE NEWCOMERS

  1. J. Cron 1B

Austin Gomber SP

 

NOTABLE DEPARTURES

Nolan Arenado

David Dahl

 

LINEUP

1 Tapia OF

2 McMahon 1B/2B/3B

3 Story SS

4 Blackmon OF

5 Cron 1B

6 Hilliard OF

7 Fuentes 3B/1B

8 Diaz C

 

ROTATION

Marquez

Gray

Gomber

Senzatela

Freeland

 

CLOSER

Daniel Bard

 

OUTLOOK

When you lose one of the best players in baseball like Nolan Arenado, you can count on seeing a decline unless you actually add players that can offset the loss. I don't see that Colorado added anything close to what Arenado brought to the table, both defensively and offensively. He is arguably the best defensive 3rd baseman in baseball and was a virtual lock to leave the yard at least 40 times every year. The cupboard is not bare, they have one of the most complete players in the majors in shortstop Trevor Story. Blackmon is an elite hitter with power, and Cron can hit it as far as anyone when he gets ahold of a pitch he can handle. Look for McMahon to have a breakout season now that he will be playing every day, most often at 2B as it stands now. If you play fantasy baseball, lock in your guys who will be playing on the road at Coors field this year. And that is without the huge advantage of balls flying out of the park at high elevation or the cavernous outfield that absorbs base hits that are normally outs. The Rockies pitching staff is just plain bad. There is not much to be said except Marquez has potential for a decent season, other than that games at Coors field will last 4 hours and have double digit run totals on a regular basis.



Stay tuned for the rest of the National League and as always, stay true.



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