Around the NL West: Examining the Competition at the Break

The first half of the MLB season is over and your Los Angeles Dodgers sit atop the National League West by a ½ game with a 47-40 record. That’s pretty amazing considering all of the injuries this team has dealt with. The biggest injury was the one to Matt Kemp, who only played in 36 games during the first half of this season, a period where it has seemed as if everyone got hurt at one time or another, extending to the broadcast booth when Vin Scully missed a couple of games to start the season with a cold.

Luckily, the Dodgers have had players come out of nowhere to pick up the slack. Shout out to Jerry Hairston Jr., Ivan De Jesus Jr., Justin Sellers, Elian Herrera, Scott Van Slyke, and Luis Cruz! These players have delivered in one way or another, keeping the Dodgers ahead of the pack in the National League West.

After the All Star break, the Dodgers will host a three game series against the San Diego Padres starting on July 13, which should also be the return of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

Los Angeles Dodgers All Stars: Clayton Kershaw, and Matt Kemp (who has been replaced).

San Francisco Giants – 46-40
The Giants are definitely going to be in the race until the very end of this season. Despite losing their All Star closer Brian Wilson (Tommy John surgery) early this season for the entire year, and seeing their two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum struggle like we’ve never seen before (3-10, 6.42 ERA), they still find themselves only a half game out of first place behind the Dodgers.

Their offense has been the biggest surprise, with Melky Cabrera having an unbelievable first half hitting .353 with eight home runs and 44 RBIs. Shockingly, this offense has three players starting in this year’s All Star game on Tuesday night.

The Giants will start their second half of the season at home in a three-game series against the Houston Astros next Friday night.

San Francisco Giants All Stars: Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Melky Cabrera, and Matt Cain.

Reason to be Worried (as a Dodger fan): They swept the Dodgers over a week ago and are only a half game back in the division. Also they’re hitting the ball better than I would have ever expected, and even with Lincecum struggling they have about three other pitchers who can be top-of-the-rotation guys somewhere else.

Reason to be Optimistic (as a Dodger fan): The Dodgers should have a healthy lineup when the second half of the season begins. The last time Kemp was healthy the Dodgers had a seven-game lead over the Giants.

Biggest Contributor: Melky Cabrera, hitting .353 with eight home runs and 44 RBIs.

Biggest Disappointment: Tim Lincecum, 3-10 record with a 6.42 ERA in 18 starts.

Biggest Surprise: Barry Zito, 7-6 record with a 4.01 ERA in 17 starts. I can guarantee you that no one on this planet expected Zito to have a better record and ERA than Lincecum at this point.

Arizona Diamondbacks – 42-43
The D-Backs just took three out of four from the Dodgers and now sit just four games back in the division. This is a team that could also be in the race for the long haul depending on whether or not they decide to move Justin Upton. He was off to a horrific start this season, but seems to be picking it up after a great series against the Dodgers. Upton is now hitting .273 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs.

The 24-year-old is without a doubt the Diamondbacks’ franchise player and because of a slow start to the season he has been the center of trade rumors stating that Arizona may be open to moving him at the deadline, if they’re out of contention for the playoffs. At this point they are still alive, so it will be interesting to see whether they buy or sell.

The D-Backs will travel to Chicago on Friday to take on the Cubs in a three-game series as they get their second half of the season underway.

Arizona Diamondbacks All Stars: Wade Miley (rookie)

Reason to be Worried (as a Dodger fan): Well they just beat the Dodgers three out of four times and you can say the Dodgers weren’t healthy, but they beat Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, and Chris Capuano who are supposed to be the big three of the Dodgers’ rotation.

Reason to be Optimistic (as a Dodger fan): The Diamondbacks haven’t been consistent enough all year to stay in the division race for another half-season.

Biggest Contributor: Miguel Montero, hitting .272 with eight home runs and 45 RBIs.

Biggest Disappointment: Chris Young, hitting .203 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs.

Biggest Surprise: Wade Miley, 9-5 record with a 3.04 ERA in 17 games overall and 14 starts.

San Diego Padres – 34-53
If you’ve been following my “Around the NL West” articles during the first half of the season, then you know that I have been tough on the Padres. This one will be different though, with some good things happening in San Diego despite the record, and I promised I wouldn’t roast them in my previous article. They just found out that their new owners will be the O’Malley family, who won World Championships with the Dodgers when they owned the team dating back from their days in Brooklyn all the way until 1998, so the Padres are indeed in good hands.

This team also is no longer in last place in the division, a spot that they held for most of the first half of the season. The Padres called up their top prospect last week Yasmani Grandal, and all he did was hit three home runs for his first three hits of his career. The future looks very bright for the fans in sunny San Diego, California.

The Padres will start the second half of their season against the Dodgers in a three-game series at Dodger Stadium next weekend.

San Diego Padres All Stars: Huston Street (coolest name in baseball).

Reason to be Worried (as a Dodger fan): Is it possible that the O’Malleys could come back to haunt us? Well probably not this year, but maybe I’ll worry in about five years from now.

Reason to be Optimistic (as a Dodger fan): They sit 13 games back at the moment and don’t really have an established franchise player yet.

Biggest Contributor: Chase Headley, hitting .267 and leads the team with eight home runs and 42 RBIs.

Biggest Disappointment: Cameron Maybin, hitting .212 with four home runs and 24 RBIs.

Biggest Surprise: Huston Street, 2-0 record with a 1.13 ERA and is 13 for 13 in save opportunities.

Colorado Rockies – 33-52
The Rockies have one of the best offenses in the National League, except that doesn’t help when your pitching is the worst. They couldn’t seem to put both of them together at all during a rough first half of the season. It’s pretty impressive that their offense has done so well without Troy Tulowitzki, who has been one of their most reliable bats over the past few seasons. Even without Tulowitzki in the lineup, Carlos Gonzalez has had one of best first halfs of any player in baseball.

However, the Rockies will need a complete turnaround from their pitching staff if they want to dig themselves out of a 13-game deficit in the division.

Colorado will host the Philadelphia Phillies in a three-game series after the All Star break.

Colorado Rockies All Stars: Carlos Gonzalez.

Reason to be Worried (as a Dodger fan): If any team can completely turnaround their ball club and make the playoffs in the second half of the season, it’s the Rockies, I’ve seen them do it before. (It’s like they plan it out that way)

Reason to be Optimistic (as a Dodger fan): This team is last in the entire major leagues with a 5.26 team ERA.

Biggest Contributor: Carlos Gonzalez, hitting .330 with a team leading 17 home runs and 58 RBIs.

Biggest Disappointment: Jeremy Guthrie, 3-8 record with a 6.05 ERA in 17 games overall and 13 starts.

Biggest Surprise: Dexter Fowler, hitting .300 with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs.

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