National League West Preview Capsules
Capsules of National League West teams, listed in order of finish last year:
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
2021: 107-55, first place, lost to Dodgers in Division Series.
Manager: Gabe Kapler (third season).
Opening Day: April 8 vs Miami.
He’s Here: LHP Carlos Rodon, RHP Alex Cobb, OF Joc Pederson, RHP Jakob Junis.
He’s Outta Here: C Buster Posey, RHP Kevin Gausman, 3B/OF Kris Bryant, RHP Johnny Cueto, INF Donovan Solano, LHP Tony Watson, OF Alex Dickerson, LHP Scott Kazmir, RHP Aaron Sanchez, LHP José Quintana.
Top Hitters: SS Brandon Crawford (.298, 24 HRs, 90 RBIs, Gold Glove), 1B Brandon Belt (.274, 18, 56, .975 OPS), OF Mike Yastrzemski (.224, 5, 71), 1B/OF Darin Ruf (.271, 16, 43).
Projected Rotation: RH Logan Webb (11-3, 3.03 ERA), LH Carlos Rodon (13-5, 2.37 with White Sox), RH Anthony DeSclafani (13-7, 3.17), LH Alex Wood (10-4, 3.83), RH Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.76 with Angels).
Key Relievers: RH Camilo Doval (5-1, 3.00 ERA, 3 saves), LH Jake McGee (3-2, 2.72, 31/36 saves), RH Tyler Rogers (7-1, 2.22, 13 saves), RH Dominic Leone (4-5, 1.51, 2 saves).
Outlook: The Giants were the biggest surprise in baseball last year, winning a franchise-record 107 games and edging out the Dodgers for the NL West title on the final day of the season. But then San Francisco lost to Los Angeles in a tight, five-game Division Series and now will look to take another step in 2022 after star catcher Posey retired. Prized prospect Joey Bart steps in behind the plate but the offense will still be anchored by the two Brandons, with Crawford and Belt the last remaining ties to the 2014 World Series championship team. Rodon and Cobb replace Gausman and Cueto in the rotation. Matching last year’s regular-season success seems unlikely but the Giants still might have enough to contend for a playoff spot and make a run in October.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
2021: 106-56, second place, wild card, lost to Atlanta in NLCS.
Manager: Dave Roberts (seventh season).
Opening Day: April 8 at Colorado.
He’s Here: 1B Freddie Freeman, 2B Hanser Alberto, LHP Andrew Heaney, LHP Tyler Anderson, RHP Daniel Hudson.
He’s Outta Here: SS Corey Seager, RHP Kenley Jansen, RHP Max Scherzer, 1B Albert Pujols, RHP Joe Kelly, 1B Matt Beaty, OF Billy McKinney, LHP Cole Hamels.
Top Hitters: SS Trea Turner (.328, 28 HRs, 77 RBIs, .911 OPS, 107 runs, 32 SBs with Nationals and Dodgers), 1B Freddie Freeman (.300, 31, 83, .896 OPS, NL-high 120 runs with Braves), RF Mookie Betts (.264, 23, 58, .854 OPS in 122 games), DH Max Muncy (.249, 36, 94, .895 OPS), 3B Justin Turner (.278, 27, 87, .832 OPS), C Will Smith (.258, 25, 76, .860 OPS).
Projected Rotation: RH Walker Buehler (16-4, 2.47 ERA), LH Clayton Kershaw (10-8, 3.55), LH Julio Urías (20-3, 2.96), LH Andrew Heaney (8-9, 5.83 with Angels and Yankees), RH Tony Gonsolin (4-1, 3.23).
Key Relievers: RH Blake Treinen (6-5, 1.99 ERA, 7/11 saves), RH Daniel Hudson (5-3, 3.21 with Nationals and Padres), RH Brusdar Graterol (3-0, 4.59), RH Phil Bickford (4-2, 2.81, 1 save with Brewers and Dodgers), LH David Price (5-2, 4.03, 1 save in 39 games, 11 starts), LH Tyler Anderson (7-11, 4.53 in 31 starts with Pirates and Mariners), LH Alex Vesia (3-1, 2.25, 1 save), LH Danny Duffy (4-3, 2.51 in 13 games, 12 starts, with Royals).
Outlook: After their second 106-win season in three years, the Dodgers came up one game short of rival San Francisco in the NL West. They advanced to the NLCS and lost to Atlanta, then lured Freeman back to his West Coast roots in a blockbuster signing. Buehler has replaced Kershaw at the top of the rotation and close behind is Urías, who led the majors with 20 wins last season. Kershaw signed a one-year deal as a free agent and still has a slider that batters barely touched last season. Freeman joins a powerhouse lineup that features three MVPs plus Trea Turner, the reigning NL batting champion. Center fielder Cody Bellinger is healthy after shoulder and leg injuries decimated his numbers and cost him playing time late in the season, although he struggled at the plate this spring. With Freeman taking over at first base, Muncy can play second, third or be the DH, which is now permanent in the NL. He had a career-high 36 home runs last year.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
2021: 79-83, third place.
Manager: Bob Melvin (first season).
Opening Day: April 7 at Arizona.
He’s Here: OF/1B Matt Beaty, RHP Nick Martinez, RHP Luis Garcia, DH/1B Luke Voit.
He’s Outta Here: Manager Jayce Tingler, LF Tommy Pham, RHP Mark Melancon, RHP Matt Strahm.
Top Hitters: SS Fernando Tatis Jr. (.282, NL-leading 42 HRs, 97 RBIs, .975 OPS, 25 SBs in 130 games), 3B Manny Machado (.272, 28, 106, .836 OPS), 2B Jake Cronenworth (.266, 21, 71, .800 OPS), 1B Eric Hosmer (.269, 12, 65, .732 OPS).
Projected Rotation: RH Yu Darvish (8-11, 4.22 ERA), RH Joe Musgrove (11-9, 3.18), RH Mike Clevinger (DNP/Tommy John surgery; 3-2, 3.02 with Indians and Padres in 2020), LH Blake Snell (7-6, 4.20), RH Chris Paddack (7-7, 5.07), or RH Nick Martinez (10-5, 1.62 in Japan) or LHP Ryan Weathers (4-7, 5.32).
Key Relievers: RH Craig Stammen (6-3, 3.06 ERA), RH Dinelson Lamet (2-4, 4.40), RH Luis Garcia (1-1, 3.24 with Cardinals), RH Pierce Johnson (3-4, 3.22), RH Emilio Pagán (4-3, 4.83).
Outlook: Spring training opened with the bad news that Tatis, the team’s superstar shortstop, had a broken left wrist. He had surgery March 16 and is expected to be out up to three months. The Padres are trying to bounce back from a brutal September collapse that left them with a losing record in a full season for the 10th time since 2011 and cost Tingler his job. They made a surprise hire in Melvin, voted Manager of the Year three times — including in both leagues — during his 18-season career. The rotation was again in shambles at the end of last season, with Darvish, Snell and Paddack on the injured list. With the return of Clevinger, the unit should be a strength this season barring injuries. Kim Ha-seong is slated to start in place of Tatis, although top prospect C.J. Abrams has had an impressive spring. LHP MacKenzie Gore, the third pick in the 2017 draft, has had a good spring after struggling in the minors the last few years. He’ll probably start the season in Triple-A. The Padres failed to sign any of the big-name free-agent outfielders and traded for Beaty after the rival Dodgers designated him for assignment. They’ve also failed to move Hosmer in an attempt to clear some salary. The club hasn’t identified a closer yet after Melancon, who led the majors with 39 saves last season, left for the Diamondbacks.
2021: 74-87, fourth place.
Manager: Bud Black (sixth season).
Opening Day: April 8 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers.
Here’s Here: OF/3B Kris Bryant, RHP Alex Colomé, SS Jose Iglesias, OF Scott Schebler, LHP Ty Blach, RHP Chad Kuhl, OF Randal Grichuk.
He’s Outta Here: SS Trevor Story, RHP Jon Gray, OF Raimel Tapia.
Top Hitters: LF Kris Bryant (.265, 25 HRs, 73 RBIs with Cubs and Giants), 3B Ryan McMahon (.254, 23, 86), RF/DH Charlie Blackmon (.270, 13, 78), 1B C.J. Cron (.281, 28, 92), 2B Brendan Rodgers (.284, 15, 51).
Projected Rotation: RH German Marquez (12-11, 4.40 ERA, 176 Ks), LH Kyle Freeland (7-8, 4.33), RH Antonio Senzatela (4-10, 4.42), LH Austin Gomber (9-9, 4.53), RH Chad Kuhl (5-7, 4.82 with Pirates).
Key Relievers: RH Alex Colomé (4-4, 4.15 ERA, 17 saves with Twins), RH Daniel Bard (7-8, 5.21, 20 saves), RH Carlos Estevez (3-5, 4.38, 11 saves), RH Robert Stephenson (2-1, 3.13), RH Jhoulys Chacin (3-2, 4.34).
Outlook: Bryant signed a $182 million, seven-year deal to help the Rockies contend. The versatile slugger has never experienced a losing season in his big league career and doesn’t plan to start now. “I’m always up for a challenge in anything,” Bryant said. The Rockies are looking for their first playoff appearance since 2018. They’ve finished fourth in the NL West each of the last three seasons. Gone are Story and Gray, two popular players in the clubhouse and around the city. Story is now in Boston and Gray in Texas. Colorado recently signed McMahon to a $70 million, six-year contract. He filled in at third base last season after Nolan Arenado was traded to St. Louis. Keep an eye on Rodgers, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft who could be in for a breakout year. Cron will try to match the big numbers he posted in 2021. Colorado may explore different options at DH, including Blackmon. The Rockies are banking on the leadership and big bat of Bryant. “Excited to have Kris with us the next seven years and help us win that elusive World Series that we all are looking for,” owner Dick Monfort said.
2021: 52-110, fifth place.
Manager: Torey Lovullo (sixth season).
Opening Day: April 7 vs. San Diego.
He’s Here: RHP Mark Melancon, RHP Zach Davies, RHP Ian Kennedy, RHP Dan Straily, OF Jordan Luplow.
He’s Outta Here: OF Kole Calhoun, INF Andrew Young, RHP Taylor Clarke.
Top Hitters: 2B/OF Ketel Marte (.318, 14 HRs, 50 RBIs), INF/OF Josh Rojas (.264, 11, 44), OF David Peralta (.259, 8, 63), OF Pavin Smith (.267, 11, 49), C Carson Kelly (.240, 13, 46).
Projected Rotation: LH Madison Bumgarner (7-10, 4.67 ERA), RH Zac Gallen (4-10, 4.30), RH Merrill Kelly (7-11, 4.44), RH Luke Weaver (3-6, 4.25), LH Tyler Gilbert (2-2, 3.15).
Key Relievers: RH Mark Melancon (4-3, 2.23 ERA, MLB-leading 39/45 saves with Padres), RH Ian Kennedy (3-1, 3.20, 26/30 saves with Texas and Philadelphia), LH Caleb Smith (4-9, 4.83).
Outlook: The Diamondbacks were dreadful last year, losing 110 games for the second-worst season in franchise history. So it’s somewhat surprising they decided to bring back essentially the same roster, though that’s at least partly because of a limited budget. Arizona has some solid young hitters — particularly Marte — and younger arms like Gallen and Weaver could still take a big step forward. The one place the Diamondbacks did upgrade was in the bullpen, bringing in the veteran duo of Melancon and Kennedy. That should solidify the team’s options in save situations. Now the big question is whether there will be many leads to protect. Arizona has some good young prospects who are getting close to the big leagues, but it’s an uphill battle for a budget-conscious franchise trying to compete with big spenders like the Dodgers and Padres.
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