After posting a regular season best 117-45 record, the Dodgers rolled through the playoffs on their way to the World Series before losing in 7 games to the Texas Rangers. The Dodgers return 4/5 of the starting pitching staff that won a combined 89 games last year. The missing piece this year is Willie Diggins (19-6). Willie was traded to Cincinnati during the offseason for 3 minor league players to help populate a depleted farm system. Taking Willie's place in the rotation will most likely be Samuel Root who worked mainly out of the bullpen last year as a long reliever. Samuel posted a 3.10 ERA in 113 innings of work. In the bullpen, Season 1 Fireman of the Year Benny Waddell returns. Benny dominated in Season 1 giving up only 9 earned runs in 46 innings of work. Joining Benny in the bullpen are Bert Moses, Rob Wilkinson, Oswaldo Santiago and McKay Frazier, all of whom have closer stuff. The Dodgers led the ML in ERA last year at 2.85 and I don't see that changing this year even with the loss of Diggins. Just like with the pitching staff, the Dodgers return all the important pieces on offense as well. Harold McKnight, Braden Kubel and Rookie of the Year Theo Mathews all recorded 100+ RBIs for the Dodgers in Season 1. With one of the best pitching staffs in the ML, the offense isn't asked to do much and they won't need to again this year. The Dodgers are just as good as they were last year even with the loss of Willie Diggins. I predict another NL West title and another deep run in the playoffs. Anything short of another World Series appearance will be a disappointment.
Predicted Finish: 104-58 - 1st NL West
Predicted Finish: 104-58 - 1st NL West
The Diamondbacks tied the Nationals for the worst record in the ML last year at 47-115. The heat will be turned up this year on owner The_Kid if the Diamondbacks post another season like they did in Season 1. It's going to be tough again this year for the Diamondbacks partly because they're in the same division as the Dodgers, but also because they simply lack the talent to compete in a very strong NL. Roosevelt Voyles returns this year after hitting 32 HR and recording 112 RBIs in Season 1. He will need to carry the offense again this year. The Diamondbacks added Graham Hiljus in a trade with Cincinnati. Graham hit 34 HR and had 109 RBIs in AAA last season. I don't believe he has the same success at the ML level, but he will help make the Diamondback lineup a little better than in Season 1.
From top to bottom, the Diamondback lineup isn't as bad as their record was last year. What really hurt the Diamondbacks last season was their lack of quality pitching. Frank Lee and Terry Lange tied for the team lead in wins last season with 7. No, that's not a typo, 7 wins. The Diamondbacks did add Robinson Roberts who went 15-5 with a 4.05 ERA in AAA last season for New Orleans and Atlanta. There really isn't much to talk about when it comes to the staff, their simply isn't much talent there and unfortunately won't help the Diamondbacks climb out of the NL West cellar again this season.
Predicted Finish: 50-112 - 4th NL West
San Diego Padres
The Padres finished last season 65-97 and like the Diamondbacks have the pleasure of playing in the same division as the best team in the NL last season. The Padres lineup is led by Cole Swindell (34 HR, 101 RBI) and Bob Daniels (28 HR, 78 RBI). The rest of the lineup is balanced and should see better results this season.
The pitching staff has some bright spots. The Padres added Kaito Johjima in free-agency. Kaito went 11-6 for KC last season. Hulk Roosevelt returns in the bullpen where he won 8 games, saved 9 and posted a 3.79 ERA in 126 innings. I fully expect Yonder Silva to be promoted either at the beginning of the season or immediately at the game 20 mark in the ML season. Yonder went 14-6 with a 2.56 ERA at AA and would immediately become one of the Padres top 3 starting pitchers at the ML level. From top to bottom, the Padres staff isn't all that bad. They lack a dominate pitcher at the top and bottom and playing in pitcher friendly Petco Park definitely helps.
The one bright spot from Season 1 for the Padres was the fact they had the first pick in the Amateur Draft. They used that pick to draft Phil Lowery who although is still a few years away from the ML gives the Padre faithful something to look forward to in a few seasons. If Yonder is promoted like I expect him to be, I definitely see the Padres improving on their 65 win season last year. I believe owner gerald007 is doing a good job of building a team from the ground up and he should continue to see improvements in seasons to come. However, with the Dodgers in the same division, it's going to be a while before the Padres win their 1st NL West crown.
Predicted Finish: 72-90 - 2nd NL West
The Giants return their leading HR hitter from last season's 69-93 squad Reid Howard who hitting a whopping 18 HR. Wait a minute, the team leader had 18 HR. When you have a lineup that lacks power like the Giants, you have to try to generate runs with timely hitting and aggressive baserunning, something the Giants lack. To be fair, the Giants lineup isn't as bad as I'm making it out to be. Prince Cameron has the potential to be a above average hitter, but he is a liability behind the plate as a catcher which forced the Giants to platoon Cameron with Geoff Walker.
The pitching staff has its bright spots. Juan Rios returns as the teams ace. Although Juan went 9-14 in Season 1, he has the stuff to win 12-15 games. The Giants traded for Jacob Watson, a lefty who went 16-9 for the world champion Texas Rangers last season. For the Giants, the pitching staff is really sitting in AAA. Kelvim Thompson and JR Middlebrook will both start the season in AAA and it will be interesting to see what owner miggyt4 decides to do at the game 20 mark.
The Giants have a lot of talent at the AA and AAA level that isn't far from being promoted to the ML level. Ownership needs to be careful not to promote them to quickly to a ML team that isn't all that good. I see similar results as last season unless they decide to promote Thompson or Middlebrook. Even then, I'm not sure how successful those 2 will be at the ML level playing for a team that lacks offensive firepower.
Predicted Finish: 65-97 - 3rd NL West