2021 N.L. West Preview

A week closer to the start of the MLB season we will now cover the National League West to cover the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Padres and Rockies.  This division is truly only a two horse race but we can still look to the future with the other teams to see if any players can propel them to the next level or if any new stars will emerge.  These articles will coincide with the division that we preview on the podcast that week.  We will be starting in the west then and working our way east across the divisions.  In this article I will highlight the team’s offseason losses and additions, some prospects that may make an impact this season, my player to watch, my projected team record, and finally my projected division standings.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks are coming off a season where they underperformed based on their standards finishing 25-35.  This offseason they have lost Mike Leake and Hector Rendon declining their options as well as John Jay and Junior Guerra.  They did make the additions of Joakim Soria, Chris Devenski and Ryan Buchter to bolster their bullpen after trading Archie Bradley last season.  Entering this season they should be better than they were last year if their pitching stays healthy and the stars produce like they should.

This year the Diamondbacks have 4 players in the top 100 prospects In Corbin Carroll(47), Kristian Robinson(55), and Alek Thomas(81) who are all outfielders along with Geraldo Perdomo(79) who is a shortstop who should compete for a roster spot during spring training.  In my opinion Perdomo will have to really impress to break into the Dbacks infield of Christian Walker, Ketel Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Nick Ahmed.  He will most likely end up starting in the minor and get called up in June or July.  As for the three outfielders they are in A-ball and are a year or two away.

My player to watch for the DBacks this season is Daulton Varsho.  The former top 100 prospect could have a flex role with his ability to play catch as well as the centerfield.  He could spell Carson Kelly behind the plate if needed if the team does not carry Stephen Vogt as their backup catcher while most likely patrolling centerfield every day.  He did struggle hitting last season but I am drawing that up to the strange start of the season and no true spring training for a player making his debut season in the MLB.

I think the DBacks will be better than they were last season but I don’t think they are good enough to compete for a wild card spot this season due to the questions with the pitching staff as a whole.  I like their lineup a lot as a huge fan of Ketel Marte, Eduardo Escobar and David Peralta.  They will be able to hit, it is just that they have to play the Dodgers and Padres about 18 each this year and I don’t think they will be able to compete with them which will put them behind the eight-ball.  I think the Dbacks will finish 72-90 competing against teams in their tier but struggling against the upper class of the MLB.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers are coming off a World Series Championship finishing with a regular season record of 43-17.  This offseason they have lost Alex Wood, Pedro Baez, Jake McGee, Joc Pederson, Enrique (Kike) Hernandez, Justin Turner and Terrance Gore to free agency.  They have acquired Corey Knebel via trade with the Brewers and Trevor Bauer, Enny Romero, Tommy Kahnle, Brandon Morrow and James Pazos via free agency.  The Dodgers are clearly the class of the N.L. West and possibly the National League as a whole and the MLB.  They are going into this season trying to keep their streak of N.L. West titles intact.  Even losing the players they did in free agency they added star pitcher Trevor Bauer and have young stars in the pipeline that can fill the roles well.

The Dodgers only have 1 top 100 prospect in Josiah Gray who is a year away, but they do have Dustin May and Gavin Lux who were former top 100 prospects who will look to make a major impact this season.  May did pitch well during the shortened 2020 season and he will look to build on the success that he had.  Gavin Lux did get a few at-bats not showing much but like the other young prospects that only got a few plate appearances last year I am just chalking it up to the strange season with a lack of a true spring training.  He will look to rebound, possibly getting the opening day start at second base.

My player to watch for this season is David Price who has not pitched in a game since getting traded to the Dodgers for the Red Sox prior to last season in the Mookie Betts deal.  I’m interested to see how Price, 35, will look coming off of a nearly year and a half pitching hiatus.  We know what Price can be when he’s on but the veteran should be able to shake the rust off quickly with this lineup behind him as well as being the 3 or 4 starter for the team.  If Price returns to 2018 form he would be a great addition to an already dominant Dodgers team.

The Dodgers will dominate again with their high powered offense along with a strong pitching staff driven by Trevor Bauer, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, David Price and Dustin May as well as additional options of Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin.  They will be able to score and their pitching will back them even when they can’t.  They are extremely stacked top to bottom and should finish with the best record in the MLB at 104-58.  It’s championship or bust again for the Dodgers this year.

 

San Francisco Giants

The Giants come off a season where they finished 29-31 better than expected for a team in a rebuilding phase.  Mike Yastrzemski had a breakout season last year helping lead to the surprising success of the Giants.  The Giants lost Trevor Cahill, Drew Smyly, Tony Watson, Joey Rickard, Tyler Anderson, and Daniel Robertson to free agency.  They added Matt Wisler, Dominic Leone, Anthony DeSclafani, Curt Casali, Alex Wood, Tommy La Stella and Jake McGee.  They should be a bit improved in their starting pitching picking up Alex Wood as well adding Tommy La Stella depth to the lineup and working pitchers into the ground.

Joey Bart, the heir to the throne of the Giants catching system.  Joey Bart was considered to be the next big catching prospect, and he will look to prove it this year.  He had an average 2020 only getting 103 at-bats with limited playing time.  He is a great defensive catcher; hopefully he can get it together with a full spring and full season.  I’m excited to see if Bart can meet the expectations set for him and see if he can reach that “Buster Posey” level.  There is also their number 

My player to watch is their new infield acquisition in Tommy La Stella.  I was a huge fan of La Stella in Los Angeles and Oakland.  He is a utility player that is a fear of pitchers at the plate not for the fact that he’s pure power it’s the fact that he never strikes out.  He is a do it all guy and you can kind of think of him as the focal point of this team due to his versatility as well as prowess as a hitter.

I think the Giants will finish the season 72-90, they will be a below .500 team but will look bright for the future.  They are still relatively a rounded team lacking in pitching with a lot of depth players but no true stars yet.  This season could show the emergence of Joey Bart, Logan Webb, and Mauricio Dubon.  This will be a season where we get a small look into some of the future of the Giants.

 

San Diego Padres

The Padres enter this season after finishing 37-23 finishing second in the division behind the Dodgers.  They had a phenomenal season and are looking to build with their young core of players.  This offseason they have lost Zach Davies, Luis Patino, Francisco Mejia, Greg Allen, Joey Lucchesi and Hudson Head via trade as well as Garrett Richards, Trevor Rosenthal, Kirby Yates, Jason Castro, Abraham Almonte, Luis Perdomo, and Greg Garcia via free agency.  They added Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, Victor Caratini, and Joe Musgrove via trade and Ha-seong Kim via free agency.  The Padres are primed for another run adding key pitchers to their team even without Clevenger for the year.

The Padres have 4 top 100 prospects this year only one of which may make an impact this season being catcher Luis Campusano.  I say he may make an impact because he is behind Austin Nola and newly acquired catcher Victor Caratini who is Yu Darvish’s personal catcher.  It will be hard for him to break in without injury but he is the closest to MLB ready currently.  Their other three prospects are RHP MacKenzie Gore(6),  SS CJ Abrams(8) and OF Robert Hassell.  All of these prospects are at A-ball or lower.  They will make impacts down the line and will be huge in keeping this line of young impactful prospects coming for the Padres.

My player to watch for the Padres is Chris Paddack, who came up as a rookie and started on fire then flattened out throughout the season.  I want to see if Paddack can reclaim that form that he had when he first came up, being either the 4-5 starter on the team with less pressure.  Hopefully he can hone in his game, have less pressure and not have to lead the pitching staff as a younger player.  Having Snell, Musgrove and Clevinger around him to help him through some of his struggles as well as help him improve will help him in his journey this season.

This division is a two-horse race as stated previously and the Padres are the second horse.  They could possibly give the Dodgers a run for their money for the division but I don’t think it will be this year.  They will make it interesting but fall a bit short of winning the division but should secure a wildcard spot finishing 95-67.  Having all the pitchers previously talked about along with Machado, Tatis, Hosmer, Pham and many others they should have an electric offense to support their fantastic pitching staff.

 

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies enter the season coming off of a 26-34 record finishing fourth in the N.L. West last season.  They have made some moves this offseason with the major note of trading Nolan Arenado.  This offseason the Rockies have lost Nolan Arenado and Jeff Hoffman via trade, Daniel Murphy via retirement, and AJ Ramos, Tim Collins, Kevin Pillar, Matt Kemp, Drew Butera, David Dahl, and Tony Wolters via free agency.  They added Robert Stephenson and Austin Gomber via trade as the only players with any MLB experience and added Dereck Rodriguez and Greg Bird via free agency both to minor league deals.  The Rockies gave up a franchise player in Arenado as well as 50 Million Dollars in exchange for what we like to call “a bunch of slap-dick prospects” and in doing so only received one top 10 prospect from the Cardinals.  This will be a rough season for the Rockies after moving their cornerstone player and will be looking to rebuild around Trevor Story.

The Rockies prospect pool has no players in the top 100 and is very thin.  They do have Zac Veen who they drafted this year who could be a star for them in the outfield but besides that there is nothing of true note.  They will be rebuilding through the draft and possibly moving some pieces at the deadline to acquire more prospects for the future.

My player to watch this season is Antonio Senzatela who looks to fill in the Rockies rotation at the number 3 starter.  He had his best year in the shortened season last year and I want to see if he can build on that.  He has a good pitch mix and is still relatively young being in the league for four years so far.  With his development over the last couple of years I think he could break out but there is always the factor of him playing half of his games in Colorado so we will see.

The Rockies are going to struggle once again this season, with the departure of Arenado and having to play the Dodgers and Padres 17-18 times each this season they will have a tough time competing.  Their pitching staff has been suspect and there is really not much offensively besides Story and Blackmon that has shown real consistency.  Teams are not going to be afraid to pitch to Story or Blackmon unless the players down the lineup start to produce.  They do have Brendan Rodgers who was highly touted but he needs to figure out his hitting as well as other younger players.  I think they will finish 58-104 last in the division and probably with a top 5 pick in next year’s draft.

 

Division Standings/Round-Up

Los Angeles Dodgers – 104-58

San Diego Padres – 95-67

Arizona Diamondbacks – 72-90

San Francisco Giants – 72-90

Colorado Rockies – 58-104

 

Final note: As previously stated, this will be a two horse race for the N.L. West between the Dodgers and Padres.  I think the Padres are a year or two away from stealing the division from the Dodgers but will make things interesting like they did last year giving them a run for their money.  The Rockies and Giants are rebuilding while the Diamondbacks hitting is ready to compete while their pitching has much to be desired.


Mike Hindin | Take A Pitch