Around the NL West: Shifting focus as the season nears an end

The Los Angeles Dodgers (76-71) might have shifted their focus over to the Wildcard race, now trailing the San Francisco Giants by 8.0 games in National League West division, with just 15 games remaining. This past weekend the Dodgers split a four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals (77-70), who currently lead the second wild card spot by 1.0 game.

It was Dodgers journeyman Luis Cruz who quite possibly saved their season over the weekend with some crucial late game clutch hitting. However, the next six games for the Dodgers will determine their fate this season. They start a three game series on Tuesday with the Washington Nationals (89-57), which is the team that holds the best record in all of baseball. After that they will travel to Ohio to play the Cincinnati Reds (88-59), another first place team. This is without a doubt the toughest six games of the season so far, which could determine their 2012 playoff hopes.

San Francisco Giants – 84-63
The Giants are now 21 games over .500 and sit comfortably with a 8.0 game lead in the division. They basically buried the Dodgers a couple of weekends ago, winning two out of three games in a pivotal series at home.

Now, the Giants will play the rest of National League West division to finish off the season, with the last three games against the Dodgers. It shouldn’t be a problem for the Giants to wrap up the division before that final series against the Dodgers, considering all of the other teams they play have records below .500 and they play 10 of their last 16 games at home.

The Giants will start a four game series tonight at home against the Colorado Rockies.

Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): The Dodgers might have missed their opportunity; it will be extremely difficult to fight off a 8.0 game deficit with just 15 games left in the season.

Reason to be optimistic (as a Dodger fan): If the Giants wrap up the division before the final series of the season against the Dodgers they might be resting their starters in a series that could be very important for a Dodgers team fighting for a final wild card spot.

Biggest contributor: Buster Posey, hitting .333 with 22 home runs and 93 RBIs.

Biggest disappointment: Can I just put Melky Cabrera in this spot for the remainder of the season?

Biggest surprise: Marco Scutaro, hitting .346 with two home runs and 31 RBIs in 47 games with the Giants.

Arizona Diamondbacks – 72-74
The Diamondbacks have been out of the division race for a while now, but they could be considered a long shot for the second Wildcard spot, trailing the Cardinals by 4.5 games. They will finish off their season playing 13 of their last 16 games against National League West teams, except the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks may already be looking ahead to the 2013 season because that Wildcard spot might be unrealistic with five teams ahead of them at the moment. The Diamondbacks will kick-off a three game series at home on Tuesday against the San Diego Padres.

Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): It’s hard to imagine the Diamondbacks being any kind of threat to the Dodgers for the rest of the 2012 season.

Reason to be optimistic (as a Dodger fan): The Diamondbacks can’t play spoiler in any way against the Dodgers for the rest of the season.

Biggest contributor: Jason Kubel, hitting .255 with 29 home runs and 86 RBIs.

Biggest disappointment: Chris Young, hitting .227 with 14 home runs and 39 RBIs in 94 games this season.

Biggest surprise: Wade Miley, in 26 starts has a 15-10 record with a 3.10 ERA.

San Diego Padres – 71-76
It would be pretty amazing if the Padres could finish at third place in the division after being one of the worst teams during the first half of the season. The Padres have been one of the toughest teams in baseball since the All-Star break, literally refusing to lose against the contenders. This team has become the ultimate spoiler and now no team wants to face them.

The Padres are 8-2 in their last 10 games and helped the Dodgers out a bit last week when they swept the Cardinals. They will play their final 12 out of 15 games against National League West teams, with three of those games next week against the Dodgers. The Padres will start a three game series on the road against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday.

Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): That series against the Dodgers next week will be on the Padres radar, hoping to spoil one of their rivals chances at a postseason opportunity.

Reason to be optimistic (as a Dodger fan): On paper the Dodgers line up is much better than the Padres, but they will have to prove it during that three game series in San Diego next week.

Biggest contributor: Chase Headley, hitting .284 with 28 home runs and 104 RBIs.

Biggest disappointment: Cameron Maybin, hitting .248 with seven home runs and 43 RBIs.

Biggest surprise: Logan Forsythe, hitting .297 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 79 games.

Colorado Rockies – 58-88
If it wasn’t for the Houston Astros (48-99) the Rockies would be in a battle for the worst record in baseball. This team is filled with talent, but injuries have definitely played a role during this atrocious season. When you lose a player of Troy Tulowitzki’s caliber, it’s hard to come back from that. That doesn’t put aside the horrid 5.15 team ERA that they have posted this season.

The Rockies will play 14 of their final 17 games against the National League West, three of those games coming on Sept. 28-30 at Dodger Stadium. The Rockies will start a four game series tonight against the Giants on the road.

Reason to be worried (as a Dodger fan): The later into the season you get, the more important these games become. So Sept. 28-30 should be crucial for the Dodgers. That series could end up being the highlight of the Rockies season if they can knock the Dodgers out of the wild card race.

Reason to be optimistic (as a Dodger fan): That 5.15 team ERA is the worst in all of baseball.

Biggest contributor: Carlos Gonzalez, hitting .308 with 22 home runs and 85 RBIs.

Biggest disappointment: You should know that team ERA by now right?

Biggest surprise: Eric Young Jr., hitting .316 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in 98 games.

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