The Dodgers and Giants seem destined for an intense series of battles before a division champ is crowned. Although the odds are stacked against the Diamondbacks, Padres, and Rockies making the postseason in the National League, each club can achieve positive results while meeting realistic expectations.
The “second half” (the remaining 65+ games to be precise) of the regular season begins tonight, let’s examine the best and worst case scenarios for each team in the NL West.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Best Case Scenario: World Series Champs, it’s that simple. The Boys in Blue keep humming along matching the rising mercury in southern California. Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and the rest of the Dodgers’ rotation remains healthy and effective as the team mows down the competition. LA pulls off a last minute deal sending several top prospects to the Tampa Bay Rays for David Price and Donnie Baseball’s crew cruises to a division title and the NL’s best record.
Worst Case Scenario: Injuries plague the starting staff and a once bountiful outfield. Don Mattingly draws the ire of Dodgers Nation by continually benching Yasiel Puig for team infractions and the club blows a division lead to the San Francisco Giants in the last week while settling for a single game wild card game without the use of Kershaw and Greinke.
San Francisco Giants
Best Case Scenario: The offense begins clicking while the starting pitching staff elevates their performance even higher. Bruce Bochy’s pesky club continues to claw out series victories while the Dodgers’ implosion commences. The front office adds another bat as well as some bullpen arms at the Trade Deadline and the team goes on a late season tear. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain each toss no-hitters in the final month (22 of the Giants 25 September games come against division foes) as San Francisco rips the hearts out of Dodgers fans by winning the West.
Worst Case Scenario: Fans forget about the pre-All Star Break slide as the Giants battle injuries and each other and find themselves out of contention by mid-August. The San Francisco brass stands pat unwilling to trade away prospects that may or may not pan out in the bigs. Madison Bumgarner visits Dr. James Andrews and the letters TJS are tossed around.
San Diego Padres
Best Case Scenario: Bud Black’s crew remains competitive despite trading Huston Street, Chase Headley, and Joaquin Benoit for a boatload of MLB-ready prospects. San Diego’s new roster gels, Jedd Gyorko becomes an elite offensive producer at second base upon his return, and the club finishes two games over .500.
Worst Case Scenario: The Padres trade Headley, Benoit, and Street but get little in return, finishing dead last in a bad division. To make matters worse Andrew Cashner experiences setbacks in this rehab and is shelved for the year. The front office cannot find a suitable general manager and decide to give all baseball operational decisions over to Bud Black, who tenders his resignation as the regular season winds down.
Best Case Scenario: Walt Weiss relates to his team and wills the Rockies to a string of series wins. Troy Tulowitzki continues to mash and runs away with the NL MVP. Carlos Gonzalez remains healthy while flashing his otherworldly skills just as a young Rockies rotation gains confidence. Jorge De La Rosa is dealt at the end of the month to a contender for a top prospect that pans out. Colorado finishes the season on a hot streak with their star studded roster intact and make it back to .500.
Worst Case Scenario: Owner Dick Monfort grows tired of the clean, crisp Colorado air along with the Rockies’ losing ways and threatens to move the team to Portland, Oregon. The front office deals Troy Tulowitzki away for next to nothing and grant Carlos Gonzalez his outright release all while offering Walt Weiss an extension because “he’s the future.”
Best Case Scenario: Paul Goldschmidt goes absolutely wild and establishes himself as the premier first baseman in baseball while smashing Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak. The club trades away Martin Prado along with a handful of utility players and bullpen arms for top prospects that establish Kirk Gibson’s crew as an immediate contender beginning in 2015.
Worst Case Scenario: The Diamondbacks begin the second half as poorly as the season started. The team continues to struggle at home (17-31 so far) and loses focus on the road as well. Goldschmidt struggles with the burden of carrying the franchise and hints that he would like to take his talents elsewhere.