Preview: After trading their best player in Paul Goldschmidt, the D-Backs are stuck between rebuilding and contending. The organization doesn’t seem to have enough talent to compete and presents an unimpressive farm system. Any team should expect a dip in offensive production after losing a player of Goldschmidt’s caliber. Arizona should be expecting the same. Key returning members of the D-Backs lineup are an outfielder, David Peralta (.293 BA and 30 HRs in 2018) and infielder, Eduardo Escobar (23 HRs and 84 RBIs in 2018). In order for Arizona to have a shot at the playoffs, David Peralta will have to find the same kind of success as he found in 2018. Along with production from Peralta and Escobar, the D-Backs are hoping to get some help from power-hitting infielder, Jake Lamb. After hitting 59 combined home runs between 2016 and 2017, Lamb struggled in a shortened (due to injury) 2018 season. The lineup in Arizona appears mediocre; not good enough to contend for this division. With a strong possibility of a lack of offense in 2019, there will be plenty of rotation on this D-Backs pitching rotation. Zack Greinke is still a reliable starter and will once again be the ‘ace’ in Arizona. Zack Godley and Robbie Ray are coming off a 2018 season in which they both looked shaky but showed some signs of dominance along the way. A new addition to the rotation, replacing Patrick Corbin, is a former first-round pick, Luke Weaver. The Diamondbacks acquired Weaver from the Cardinals in the Goldschmidt trade. Weaver struggled last season but still shows lots of potential to be a quality starter at the top of a rotation. The fifth starter spot is expected to be taken by a 30-year-old rookie, Merrill Kelly. Kelly spent four years pitching in Korea before returning back to his home in Arizona to pitch for the Diamondbacks. Arizona presents an average bullpen. They could possibly close by committee. Key relievers in this bullpen include Archie Bradley, Greg Holland, Yoshihisa Hirano, Andrew Chafin, and T.J. McFarland. The Diamondbacks will be playing for a second wild-card spot, but an Arizona postseason appearance in 2019 is a long shot.
Preview: The Rockies, once again, look to be the Dodgers biggest threat in the NL West and they expect to be a threat for a while now after extending Nolan Arenado’s contract. In addition to Arenado’s contract extension, the Rockies also went out and added another great hitter to the lineup in Daniel Murphy. Murphy is expected to take over at first base. Other offensive threats in this Colorado lineup include SS Trevor Story and outfielders, Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl, and Ian Desmond. The Rockies will be hoping for the former first-round pick, 24-year-old David Dahl, to build on his success from two short seasons in 2016 and 2017. The Rockies could have one of the better offenses in the National League. The Rockies have a young starting pitching rotation. The (expected) top two pitchers in the rotation hit their stride last season; Kyle Freeland finished the season with a 17-7 record on a 2.85 ERA in 33 starts while German Marquez went 14-11 with a 3.77 ERA. It’s the bottom of the rotation, however, that presents concerns. Tyler Anderson, Jon Gray, and Chad Bettis or Antonio Senzatela, all of which struggled last season, are expected to fill out the rest of the rotation. The back-end of the Rockies bullpen is very reliable, even after the loss of Adam Ottavino. Scott Oberg and Seunghwan Oh will handle late-inning duties with Wade Davis taking over the closer role. The rest of the bullpen has shown inconsistency. The Rockies come into the 2019 season with high expectations, looking to make another run at the division and finding their way back into the postseason.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Preview: The defending NL West champs are without a doubt, the favorites to win the division again. The Dodgers added CF A.J. Pollock, C Russell Martin, and RP Joe Kelly this past offseason. The lineup looks solid one through nine and will be helped out by one of the best shortstops in the league, Corey Seager. Joining Seager in the middle of the order will likely be OF/1B Cody Bellinger (25 HRs in 2018) and 3B Justin Turner (.312 BA and .518 SLG. in 2018). Barring any more injuries in L.A., the Dodgers offense should be as strong as anyone in the National League. The starting rotation is another strength for the Dodgers. The Dodgers brought back their former Cy Young Award winner, Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw will lead the rotation consisting of Walker Buehler (2.62 ERA in 23 starts in 2018), Hyun-Jin Ryu (1.97 ERA in 15 starts in 2018), Rich Hill (3.66 ERA in 24 starts in 2018), and Kenta Maeda (3.81 ERA in 20 starts in 2018). The Dodgers appear to field another solid bullpen anchored by one of the best closers in the league, Kenley Jansen. Manager Dave Roberts is hungry for a World Series and will be looking to get the Dodgers back there for the third year in a row. Just like they have for the past few years, the Dodgers field a team capable of contending for a World Series.
San Diego Padres
Preview: The Padre’s postseason drought continues. They did take a step forward this past offseason, however, adding a superstar, Manny Machado, who gives the Padres someone to build around. Machado batted .297 last season with 37 home runs and 107 RBIs. Likely joining Machado in the heart of the order will be 1B Eric Hosmer and outfielder, Wil Myers. San Diego would love to see breakout seasons from young hopefuls, Francisco Mejia, Luis Urias, and Manuel Margot. The starting rotation on the mound could be a big problem for the Padres. They are young and unproven. Expect to see Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer, Chris Paddack, Matt Strahm, Jacob Nix, and Robbie Erlin to get a bulk of big league experience on the mound this season. The bullpen will likely struggle, but Kirby Yates, Craig Stammen, and Adam Warren all had an impressive 2018 season. The Padres are, as they should be, very excited about the addition of Manny Machado. That won’t be nearly enough to get them to the postseason though. In a tough division like this, the Padres are still a few years away from being legit contenders.
San Francisco Giants
Preview: After two subpar years in San Francisco, the Giants are looking to get back on track. The lineup consists of veterans, proven infielders, and unproven outfielders. Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey, and Evan Longoria will be relied on to produce runs in the middle of the order. The top of the order will be a big question mark for the Giants heading into the season. Who will consistently give these power hitters RBI opportunities? Steven Duggar and Joe Panik are expected to be leading off the batting order. If they are putting together productive at-bats and getting on base at a high rate. The Giants offense will produce runs. Madison Bumgarner and Dereck Rodriguez will man the top of the pitching rotation. It’s the pitchers following those two that presents questions about the Giants starting pitching. The Giants have a solid, veteran bullpen led by Will Smith, Tony Watson, and Mark Melancon. San Fran has a pretty average team that is likely to miss the postseason again. Although, they could be a dark horse in the NL because of their experience and veteran leadership in guys like Posey, Bumgarner, Crawford, and Longoria.