View From the Center: N.L. West Contenders
Welcome to "View From the Center", where our resident pseudo-expert slash Cincinnati Reds fan Jeff Gentil takes a regular rundown of the topics of interest within baseball's divisional landscape. Last week, team aces. This week, contenders/pretenders.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Joe Torre's boys are starting to hit their stride. They're now 10 games over .500 for the first time all season and are playing good baseball. Their starters' ERA may be 4.09 but that is dropping rapidly with the progression of John Ely (3-2, 3.00 ERA) and sudden emergence of rookie Carlos Monasterios (3-0, 2.27) who is filling in for Vicente Padilla. With Andre Ethier having an MVP-type season and the weapons around him, there is no reason why the Dodgers won't have a big say in who wins the West this season. Contenders
Arizona Diamondbacks: Let's be honest, the Diamondbacks are the only team out of the N.L. West race. They're 12 under .500 and 11.5 games back of the lead with four teams ahead of them. They will keep hitting homers, but they'll also keep losing games, especially on the road where their 9-22 record is better than only Baltimore's. Pretenders
Colorado Rockies: One year ago to the day, the Rockies were seven games under .500 and a whopping 13 games out of first place. They managed to right the ship and win the wild card behind Jim Tracy. Don't expect them to panic despite being four games out and in fourth place. Any time you have a hammer like Ubaldo Jimenez you're not likely to go in a long tailspin, but the team could use some consistency from Aaron Cook and a healthy Huston Street. Contenders
San Diego Padres: The Padres were not supposed to contend for the division this soon. With a payroll of $37 million (second lowest), San Diego was supposed to be a year or two away from making a run. Perhaps they'll have to retain Adrian Gonzalez after all. It is very hard to imagine their team ERA of 3.02 being better even if they did keep Jake Peavy last year. Many people are waiting for a swoon from the young Padres, but it doesn't look like it will come. Contenders
San Francisco Giants: The Giants aren't the biggest juggernaut around but they score just enough to provide their pitching staff with support. If the offense can pick up the pace, count on a battle royal between the Padres, Dodgers, and Giants for division supremacy. It could be the best race in baseball, with the Rockies peering over all three just waiting for their chance. The Giants could use a big bat, but are they willing to upgrade their already high $97 million payroll? Contenders