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Dodgers: What Went Wrong With the Rest of the NL West

Expectations and failures.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 02: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after his bases loaded walk, scoring Russell Martin #55 to win the game 5-4 over the Arizona Diamondbacks, during the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium on July 02, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Dodgers’ seventh consecutive NL West title was perhaps their easiest yet, chiefly on the strength of their consistent play from Opening Day to game 162 (in which they can set the franchise record for single season wins). 

But it was also made easier by the fact that no one else in the division gave them a real scare, like Colorado did last year. Thus, it’s worth taking a look at just why the rest of the NL West failed to catch Los Angeles.  

Colorado Rockies

Now here is the true disaster of the division. The Rockies entered 2019 with promise, with consecutive playoff appearances and a fresh extension for Nolan Arenado. Some people even predicted they would end the Dodgers’ reign at the top of the west. Instead, they’ll finish in dead last. 

So what exactly went wrong? The starting pitching, despite some promising young arms, imploded. Their 5.62 team ERA ranks dead last in all of baseball, and is garish even when factoring in half the games being at Coors Field. The offense has been predictably stellar thanks to Charlie Blackmon, Arenado and Trevor Story, but it wasn’t nearly enough to salvage the season.

Especially with the Dodgers continuing their run and the Padres rising fast, the future in Denver is looking pretty grim. It may be time to start over, a decision that would center around putting Arenado on the trade market. 

Arizona Diamondbacks

Of all the other teams in the division, this is the strangest to assess. The Diamondbacks had a middling offseason that seemed to signal intentions to both start over and compete. They shipped off their franchise player, Paul Goldschmidt, to the playoff-ready St. Louis Cardinals. And that’s on top of losing A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin too. 

However, they still held on to Zack Greinke until sending him in a last-minute shocker to Houston at the July deadline. Yet somehow, the Diamondbacks will still finish with a winning record. Their offense was powered by Christian Walker, as well as breakout seasons from Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar. 

However, their outside shot at a wild card was lost due to a four-game sweep by the Mets in mid-September. Perhaps they could have grabbed it with most or all of the players they traded or let walk. Now, like Colorado, it’s likely time to commit to a full rebuild. Even if they get enough great performances next season, it would take a lot of luck just to get a wild card spot, let alone the division crown. 

San Diego Padres

Of all the other NL West teams, this one is the least deserving of the word “failure” given expectations. The Padres are an ascendent team with a rich farm system and the addition of Manny Machado, but even Machado himself acknowledged they wouldn’t win the division this year

Thus, one could say San Diego basically played to expectations…at least until their second half fell apart. Seeds of promise began to blossom, chiefly Chris Paddack in the starting rotation and Fernando Tatis Jr. until his season-ending injury. But it all came undone towards the end of the season, leading to manager Andy Green’s dismissal. The injury to Tatis didn’t help, but there were other culprits, such as Hunter Renfroe’s second-half power outage.

They’ll need a smart manager, more top everyday players, and stronger starting pitching to take that next step for a playoff spot in 2020. However, if they want to bring the division crown two hours south of L.A., they’ll have to shore up their player development significantly as well. 

San Francisco Giants 

This one is painfully obvious. After two disastrous seasons that clearly showed the Giants were an aging team in dire need of starting over, the rebuild finally came home to roost in 2019. San Francisco’s offense was anemic, ranking 27th in all of baseball. The pitching wasn’t any better, with much of the staff posting ERAs on the wrong side of 4.00. 

Then, out of nowhere, the team amassed a huge winning streak in the summer just before the trade deadline. The consensus that Farhan Zaidi should be allowed to sell was feverishly challenged, especially for the sentimentality of sending Bruce Bochy off with one more playoff run. 

Thus, the Giants tried to have it both ways, selling some assets like Sam Dyson and Mark Melancon while holding onto others, namely Madison Bumgarner and All-Star reliever Will Smith. When the predictable fade happened, the Giants likely extended their rebuilding process by not capitalizing on a weak seller’s market. Not that we’re complaining. 

Oh, and in case you need a reminder:

Written by Marshall Garvey

2 Comments

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  1. The NL West teams specifically and the NL in general have a real problem. How do they compete with the Dodgers? The Team has at least 105 wins, I predicted 104, and if Jansen had a clue this year they would be going for best ever record by a Dodger team.
    This team continues to get younger with guys like Seager and Bellinger as the older guys and field players like Verdugo, Smith, Lux, Beaty making their appearance. The pitching looks very good for the future.
    2020 sees a rotation of Kershaw, Buehler, Urias under contract and I believe they will attempt to sign Ryu. There are young guys like Stripling, Ferguson, May, Gonsolin that will be competing for the 25 man roster and spot on the rotation.
    The Dodgers have depending on rating service a top 3 or 5 Farm Team. They have pitchers like Grey and White that have not seen MLB action and players like Rios, Garland and Peters that have.
    I believe the Dodgers will continue to win the NL West for the foreseeable future although the Padres will eventually be very competitive. I agree wit this article in that the Giants and Snakes should go full blown rebuild and the Rockies will continue to believe they can compete so they will stay middle of the pack. When does Arenado realize he made a mistake, if he actually wants to compete for a title? The Rockies offensive numbers are impressive but if some good retired hitters played there they would probably hit 400 with the huge outfield and thin air. Guys like Tony Gwynn, Rod Carew and Nomar would lead the league every year in average and doubles.

    • Right on! But what do they do with some stellar players who need time like Beaty and a real dark horse Rios and the emerging Lux. I would ike to see them unload some older underachieving 230 – 240 hitters like Kiki and maybe Taylor for a good relief guy or Starter. Pederson might bring a nice piece too. sign Rendon at all costs.

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