The battle for first place in the National League West is heating up during these dog days of summer. It’s the Dodgers and Giants who are constantly jumping one another for a slight division lead with no breathing room. The Dodgers currently hold just a half-game lead over the Giants with a 67-55 record.
It was an impressive 10-game road trip by the Dodgers that moved them into the top spot this week. They went 7-3 on the East Coast trip, winning all three series against the Marlins, Pirates, and Braves. The offense led the way during the trip, scoring five runs or more in eight out of the ten games. The Dodgers will have a huge opportunity this week to extend their lead as they welcome the Giants to Dodger Stadium for a three-game series starting tonight.
With just a half-game separating the two teams, the NL West standings will probably change a few different times this week. What will change more over the next month, NL West standings or Kim Kardashian’s boyfriend? (This could actually be a toss-up.)
San Francisco Giants – 66-55
Some terrible news for the Giants broke last week which could affect their season going forward. The fan favorite and 2012 all-star game MVP Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games by the MLB after testing positive for high levels of testosterone, which is suggesting usage of performance-enhancing drugs. This is the second time this season that the Giants have lost a player to suspension. In May, Guillermo Mota was suspended 100 games for using performance-enhancing drugs, his second offense.
It will be interesting to see how the Giants do without Cabrera in their lineup. He was hitting .346 with 11 home runs and 60 RBIs on the season and was a big reason for Giants success this season. Earlier in the week the Giants dropped two out of three games to the Nationals and lost the division lead. Then over the weekend they bounced back and won two out of three games at home against the Padres. Tonight will be the ultimate test when they start a three game series with the first place Dodgers, without the “Melkman”.
Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): Despite the loss of Melky Cabrera the Giants still have arguably the best starting rotation in baseball.
Reason to optimistic (as a Dodger fan): The Giants offense was always the question mark for this ball club, but they have shocked a lot of people with their production this season. It will now be a concern once again as they will be without Cabrera for the rest of the season.
Biggest contributor: Buster Posey, hitting .330 with 19 home runs and 77 RBIs.
Biggest disappointment: Do I really have to write his name again? Melky! He let down his teammates, fans, and the entire organization.
Biggest surprise: Marco Scutaro, hitting .318 with two home runs and 18 RBIs.
Arizona Diamondbacks – 62-59
The Diamondbacks were catching the eye of lots of people after the All-Star break when they started creeping up in National League West race. This team is still in striking distance of first place, just 4.5 games back at the moment. They went out and picked up third baseman Chris Johnson at the trade deadline, which has been a terrific boost for them since the first time he put on the uniform.
The Diamondbacks are refusing to go away, as they have won their last four games. They swept the Astros over the weekend, which really isn’t saying much, but a win is always going into the win column. They will try to improve that winning streak when they start a three game series tonight at home against the Marlins.
Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): When a team is less than five games out of first place it always worries me. A month and a half still left to play and a 4.5 game lead could turn into a 0.5 game lead pretty quickly.
Reason to be optimistic (as a Dodger fan): The Diamondbacks haven’t found a way to stay consistent or healthy all year long, which could hurt them down the final stretch of the season.
Biggest contributor: Jason Kubel, hitting .275 with 25 home runs and 77 RBIs.
Biggest disappointment: Stephen Drew, hitting .193 with two home runs and 12 RBIs. He has only played in 40 games due to injuries, but he hasn’t been the same since his return.
Biggest surprise: Chris Johnson, hitting .246 with five home runs and 18 RBIs in 17 games.
San Diego Padres – 53-70
The Padres sit 14.5 games out of first place in the National League West. On the bright side they continue to sit out of last place in the division as well. Before a win yesterday afternoon against the Giants this team had lost five straight games. It’s been tough to watch for any Padres fan this year, but they still show up to play hard every day. They will start a three-game series tonight at home against the Pirates.
Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): This team could go out and beat the Dodgers in a crucial game late in the season to spoil a chance at the postseason.
Reason to be optimistic (as a Dodger fan): They have the worst team batting average in baseball at .238 on the season. The Dodgers pitchers will be happy to face this offense a few more times down the stretch.
Biggest contributor: Chase Headley, hitting .275 with 20 home runs and 76 RBIs.
Biggest disappointment: Cameron Maybin, hitting .219 with six home runs and 37 RBIs.
Biggest surprise: Yasmani Grandal, hitting .289 with five home runs, 15 RBIs, in 26 games since being called up.
Colorado Rockies 46-73
The Rockies are now 19.5 games back in the National League West. It’s been a devastating year for a Rockies team that came into the season with high expectations. The injuries piled up early on and the pitching never got better, which is the result of this miserable 2012 season. They actually won four games in a row before dropping two out of three games over the weekend to the Marlins.
The Rockies will start a four game series tonight against the Mets on the road.
Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): This team can flat-out hit, posting the second best in baseball .272 team batting average.
Reason to be optimistic (as a Dodger fan): From the second best team batting average to the worst team ERA in baseball at 5.41 on the season.
Biggest contributor: Carlos Gonzalez, hitting .320 with 20 home runs and 79 RBIs.
Biggest disappointment: Jonathan Sanchez, in 3 starts is 0-3 with a 9.53 ERA.
Biggest surprise: Josh Rutledge, hitting.331 with six home runs, 22 RBIs, in 31 games this season.