Around the NL West: Slow Start Puts Dodgers 3.0 Games Back

There really is a first for everything, for the first time the Dodgers are not at the top of the National League West while I write this article. Unfortunately, the Dodgers dropped four straight games, two against the San Diego Padres and two against the Philadelphia Phillies, which put the San Francisco Giants ahead of them by 3.0 games in the division. Those games were lost in unwatchable fashion for Dodgers fans, with a lack of offense even with the return of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, bullpen struggles, and the defense almost managed to end a game with more errors than hits on Sunday against the Padres, finishing with five errors and seven hits.

Things got a little bit better yesterday for the Dodgers though, when Matt Kemp hit a two run home run in the bottom of the 12th inning to beat the Phillies, which put an end to the four-game losing streak. That game alone could end up being huge for the Dodgers as they began a 10-game road trip in New York against the Mets on Friday. It was a sign that this team still has the fight in them that they had early on in the year, when they were known for always coming from behind to win ballgames.

San Francisco Giants – 51-40
It’s pretty simple, the Giants are playing the complete opposite of the Dodgers and that’s why they’re the top dog in the division. Their second half surge began at the All Star game, where they had four starters in the game and almost all of them could have been named MVP without question. Melky Cabrera ended up winning the All Star Game MVP Award, finishing 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs. The great play by the Giants continues as they’ve won each of their five games to start the second half.

This offense is shockingly still getting the job done, which makes it’s a lot easier for one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. The Giants will travel to Philadelphia over the weekend to take on the Phillies for a three game series. (Another first: This will be the first time that I will ever root for the Phillies and only because I have to).

Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): The Giants starting rotation:
•Madison Bumgarner 11-5 3.15 ERA
•Matt Cain 10-3 2.56 ERA
•Barry Zito 8-6 3.75 ERA
•Ryan Vogelsong 7-4 2.31 ERA
•Tim Lincecum 3-10 5.93 ERA

This rotation already scares the heck out of me, but if Tim Lincecum decides to come back to earth and starts pitching like the two-time Cy Young Award winner that he once was, then this rotation might give me legit nightmares.

Reason to be optimistic (as a Dodger fan): This is the one team that doesn’t scare me with one swing of the bat. They’re last in the Major Leagues with just 52 home runs overall on the year.

Biggest contributor: Buster Posey, hitting .308 with a team-leading 11 home runs and 52 RBIs.

Biggest disappointment: Tim Lincecum, 3-10 record with a 5.93 ERA. There probably isn’t a bigger disappointment in baseball at this point.

Biggest surprise: Barry Zito, 8-6 record with a 3.75 ERA.

Arizona Diamondbacks – 44-47
Before the All Star break the D-Backs were making a push in the race for the top of the National League West, but now after stumbling out of the break they’re 7.0 games back. They have lost four out of six to begin the second half of the season, which means we could be getting closer to seeing Justin Upton in a new uniform at the trade deadline.

It’s been a constant struggle for the defending National League West champs, who have been hit hard with injuries and haven’t had guys step up like last season. Now 7.0 games back is not the end of the world considering there are 71 games left to play this season, so a winning streak could put the D-Backs right back into the playoff hunt. They now will start a three game series at home over the weekend against the Houston Astros.

Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): Justin Upton is hitting .273 with just seven home runs and 38 RBIs, but he could heat up at any moment and possibly carry this team right back into the division race.

Reason to be optimistic (as a Dodger fan): The key word above was Upton possibly carrying the team. However, it will take much more than Justin to carry this team into the race. The Diamondbacks’ pitching hasn’t been consistent enough this season and that has been the key disappointment.

Quick Question: Will Justin Upton be traded before his bobble head night on July 28th?

Biggest contributor: Jason Kubel, hitting .295 with a team leading 17 home runs and 63 RBIs.

Biggest disappointment: Trevor Bauer, (optioned back to Triple-A) in four starts went 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA.

Biggest surprise: Aaron Hill, hitting .302 with 12 home runs and 42 RBIs. Hill also hit for the cycle twice this season in a two-week span, unbelievable. (I bet Canseco, Bonds, and McGuire know about going through cycles that frequently. GOT HEEEEEM)

San Diego Padres – 38-55
The Padres took two out of three games from the Dodgers in some wild games last weekend at Dodger Stadium. Then tomorrow they will try to take three out of four games against the Houston Astros as they try to distance themselves from the last place Colorado Rockies. It’s a good second half start for a team that spent most of the first half buried in last place. They’re 14.0 games out of first place at the moment and it’s doubtful that they will make a run at the Dodgers or Giants for the division title. Despite the record this team is still playing hard every single day for their manager Bud Black, their fans, and to stay out of last place in the division. The Padres will host the Rockies in a three-game series this weekend.

Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): Just like I mentioned above, this team has continued to play hard during their tough season. So when the Dodgers play them late in the season during a tight race with the Giants, it won’t be easy.

Reason to be optimistic (as a Dodger fan): This team might play hard, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t struggle to score runs. The Padres offense is ranked last in all of baseball with just 336 runs scored on the season.

Biggest contributor: Chase Headley, hitting .268 with a team leading 10 home runs and 46 RBIs.

Biggest disappointment: Cameron Maybin, hitting .221 with four home runs and 26 RBIs.

Biggest surprise: Huston Street, in 27 games this season has a 2-0 record with a 1.07 ERA and is 15 for 15 in save opportunities.

Colorado Rockies – 35-56
The Rockies are a team that most people didn’t expect to be 19 games under .500 at this point. This is a team that I thought would honestly make the National League West a four-team race, but they’re 16.0 games back and in last place. In this article I usually give the last place team a hard time, so I’m happy it’s the Rockies now, only because I ran out things to say about the Padres.

Colorado has started the second half of the season losing four out of six games, against the Phillies and Pirates. Their offense has actually been fantastic without Troy Tulowitzki, who has been injured for half of the season. It has been the pitching that has killed the Rockies chance at winning games this year. Drew Pomeranz is the only pitcher in their rotation with an ERA below 4.76, he has a 3.79 ERA but that’s only in eight starts on the year. So the team that always seems to make an unbelievable run at the division late in the season might be too far out of contention this time.

Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): This is where I usually insert a joke about how I’m really not worried. Well I would be lying if I said I wasn’t, this team will scare me until they’re about 25 games back. The Rockies offense is second in the National League with a .268 team batting average and is tied for first in the National League with 106 home runs on the season.

Reason to be optimistic (as a Dodger fan): The Rockies have the worst team ERA in all of baseball, 5.26. (Hey that’s still better than Tim Lincecum.)

Biggest contributor: Carlos Gonzalez, hitting .333 with a team leading 18 home runs and 62 RBIs.

Biggest disappointment: Pitching. 5.26 team ERA…

Biggest surprise: Wilin Rosario, who has been starting at catcher, is hitting .255 with 15 home runs and 39 RBIs.

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