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Monday, April 30, 2018

Bold Postseason Predictions: NL West

Por Jack Leyva

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been the clear dominators of the West Division of the National League for the last few years, but they have a lot of resistance in their division, in which, little by little, the traditionally weak teams have grown and have postseason aspirations. Last year both Arizona and Colorado got to fight for the wildcard and it is only natural that they fight for more, while the Padres and San Francisco are notoriously reinforced.

Arizona Diamondbacks: When you have David Peralta, A.J. Pollock, Daniel Descalso, Ketel Marte, Jake Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt, only good things can happen. Arizona demonstrated that last year in a heartbreaking game to get the wildcard, in which they defeated Colorado. It is true that they don’t have great stars in their pitching crew but do count with players like Zack Greinke, Patrick Corbin, Zack Godley and Taijuan Walker, who could be of use to Torey Lovullo, best manager of the National League in the last season. They have started off their season at a very good pace and their challenge is to keep themselves that way and to go straight to the play-off. I think they have what it takes to make it.

Colorado Rockies: The union of a talented and powerful roster give this team a legitimate option to fight. They are trying to take advantage of the good streak of Charlie Blackmon, D.J. LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, main characters in a team that counts also with Gerardo Parra, Ian Desmond, Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan McMahon and Chris Ianneta. The response of its roster is undeniable even when they are far away from the Coors Field and their pitching is even stronger now with Jon Gray, Chad Bettis, Tyler Anderson and Kyle Freeland, without forgetting the closer Wade Davis, who was exceptional at the beginning of the season. The foreboding is that they might get to fight for the wildcard.

Los Angeles Dodgers: There are no doubts about the power of the Dodgers, which have a noticeable balance between pitching and batting, with worldwide stars both in the mound and the plate. After winning 104 games in the regular season and losing the World Series in seven games facing the Astros, any other result apart from being champions for the first time in 30 years would be a disappointment for Dave Roberts’ team. So far, they have started with the wrong foot, and they cannot afford to stay on this lethargic state for long, if we take into account the solid performance of the Arizona team. My guess is that they will be in the play offs, but maybe after being the wildcard.

San Diego Padres: The California team’s farms are full of talented players after being for several years with early draft selections and varied international sign-ups that provided the team with the possibility to cover all of its necessities. This new generation of the Padres is about to get to the MLB but the process should take a year or so, so, for now, they are being considered serious contenders, in spite of Eric Hosmer’s incorporation, who will be eventually the leader of a promising project like the one from the Yankees. They won’t be close to the top this season but we should keep San Diego as an interesting possibility for the future.

San Francisco Giants: It is true, we are in an even number year and we should remember that in 2010, 2012 and 2014 San Francisco was a Giant team, but it won’t happen this year. This categorical is the forecast about the San Francisco team, which I think won’t get far. The fans are not that skeptical when they look at their line-up with Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen, Austin Jackson, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval, but they forget how injury-prone this team is and a group of their player have seen their best years pass. The same happens with its pitching: Jhonny Cueto is not who he used to be and neither is Jeff Samardzija, and Madison Bumgarner is in the 60-day disabled list. With a roster in a clear need of repair, hopes are sure to be disposed of.