Here are my predictions for how the teams in the NL West will fare in the second half of the season.
The Pads have had an incredible first half of the season, but may not be able to keep pace in the division. While the team does have some veteran leadership, I would be concerned about how the young Pads handle the intensity of a pennant race. The Padres may look to add another bat before the trade deadline to protect Adrian Gonzalez. A veteran outfielder like Josh Willingham or Carlos Lee would be a good fit.
The Rox have been hot, going 8-2 in the 10 games before the break. Tulo’s return will boost the club’s morale, as adding a power hitting Gold Glove caliber shortstop never hurts a team. Huston Street will help the bullpen and take some pressure off of Corpas and Belisle. Another power bat would help, but the return of Tulowitzki and improved production from Hawpe and the first base position would take care of this concern. Brad Eldred could add some much needed power to the lineup, so long as his defense isn’t a liability.
The Dodgers are a team with several seasoned veterans and strong starting pitching. While I expect the Pads to fade down the stretch, the Dodgers will likely make a run toward the postseason after a lackluster first half. Manny’s impending return will help, as long as he is motivated. I don’t expect the Dodgers to be big players at the trade deadline, but they could potentially seek bullpen help if Troncoso and Sherrill continue their first half struggles.
The Giants have been carried by their pitching. Their offense has surprised, as Aubrey Huff has had a great year and Pat Burrell has been a useful pickup after flaming out in Tampa Bay. Like the Rockies, the Giants may want to add another power bat, but will probably rely on continued production from new additions Burrell and Buster Posey.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are out of the race. They are unlikely to trade any of their young players, but could be willing to part with a veteran like Adam LaRoche if a contending team makes an attractive offer.
Here are my predictions for the NL West standings at the end of the regular season:
- Dodgers – Too much pitching and experience. Win the division by less than three games.
- Rockies – Tulo’s return will keep the team in the race, but the Rox don’t have enough hitting to hold off the Phillies, who will eventually pull it together, in the Wild Card race
- Giants – Great pitching, not enough bats. In the Wild Card race to the end.
- Padres – Late season fade and a lack of help for Gonzalez will keep the Pads out of the Wild Card, but barely
- Diamondbacks – Young talent needs more time to compete in the NL West.
Post your NL West predictions in the comments!