The LA Dodgers made several offseason moves designed to make a more cohesive team. While this will play out, sportsbooks and MLB baseball handicappers alike see L.A. being division champions again.
San Diego has made a number of roster moves and anyone making MLB picks understands the pedigree of manager Bruce Boche and what his team of winners in San Francisco is capable of. Arizona and Colorado are only in the discussion with these teams because they happen to be in the same division.
Here are our predictions on how the NL West should play out for 2015 and the present MLB odds to win the division.
Los Angeles Dodgers (-220)
The Dodgers are poised to win now and bringing in Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick adds a veteran presence to the Los Angeles clubhouse, with players that know how to win. The offense ultimately might be a bit less productive without Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez, but the defense will definitely be improved and the clubhouse should be on a more even keel. Having Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu has to excite anyone following the MLB odds and the addition of Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson (if healthy) only further strengthens the rotation in a pitcher’s park. The Dodgers are sizable favorites in the NL West and are presumed to be champions again, but their October efforts is what will be remembered.
San Diego Padres (+375)
San Diego has not had a winning record since posting 90 wins in 2010 and bringing in new general manager A.J. Preller was thought to be a breath of fresh air, which could eventually change San Diego’s fortunes. Preller instead came out like one of those poker hot shots and immediately went “all in” to change the Padres position and a dizzying amount of trades reeled in Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, catcher Derek Norris and third baseman Will Middlebrooks. Suddenly, the Friars are the second choice according to the betting odds in the division. The pitching staff appears strong, but skipper Bud Black needs to have his team get off to a fast start, because there are some big personalities in the locker room who could be an issue if the Pads begin slowly. Look for San Diego to move up to second place.
San Francisco Giants (+450)
Of San Francisco’s three World Series championships, last year’s was the most unlikely. In the previous two, they had dominant starting pitching, a great bullpen and timely hitting from a variety of players. Last year they had Madison Bumgarner and managed to slide by with Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson and the pen did the rest and those big time players were clutch yet again. The Giants will not miss Pablo Sandoval over the course of 162 games as much as one might, but he will be missed in clutch situations. Can Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum regain a semblance of their prior form and what about the 40-year Hudson and inconsistent Peavy? No manager in baseball is able to get his players to play hard every day like Boche and San Francisco could finish second again in the division, but we’ll call for a slight regression to just over .500 record and place them third.
Arizona Diamondbacks (+4250)
After a 98-loss campaign, the Diamondbacks have rebooted and thoroughly changed their front office. That is too bad for the face of the franchise Paul Goldschmidt, who will have to endure several more seasons of losing until Arizona is competitive again. There are positives like CF A.J. Pollack and 2B Chris Owings and several young pitchers could make the Snakes more competitive like Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Vidal Nuno and possibly even Archie Bradley. Nevertheless, little chance the D-Backs are anything more than a fourth place team at best is unrealistic.
Colorado Rockies (+4250)
After a slew of injuries, Colorado closed last season 40-76 and was a favorite among those making sports picks last year as play against material. The front office was blown up and the new people in charge decided they cannot possibly have as bad a luck with players being hurt again and instead focused on being two games out of first place last May 20th instead of looking towards the future. It seem to be a minor miracle if Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzales were healthy enough to play in three-quarters of the Rockies games and it’s a given two of the Colorado starting pitchers will be injured for extended periods and let’s not even discuss the bullpen. Only way out of last place in this division is Tulo and Cargo being on the field more than recent years.