San Francisco has bounced back big time from last season and Colorado is crushing the horsehide, especially at a mile high, all leading to possibly something few sportsbooks would have forecasted, a pennant race in this division.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are back to being the Giants, at least the way this group under manager Bruce Boche has played. San Francisco is dependent on above average starting pitching, a - shut the door - bullpen and scoring enough runs to win.
When making MLB picks, one element to consider is the Giants hitting. They have thrived and survived on the long ball, second only to Colorado, who enjoys advantageous surroundings when at home. Other the Angel Pagan, Michael Morse and Buster Posey, most of the San Fran players have not hit much.
If the rest of the Giants ballplayers start to swing the lumber with authority, they might become an even better wager.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Preseason favorite Los Angeles has played similar to the traffic on nearby I-5, starting and stopping. The Dodgers have only one three-game winning streak as the high water mark yet has not lost more than two in a row.
This is a very complex team with far-ranging personalities and if Don Mattingly can find a way to win a World Series, he will have a book and movie deal in the waiting.
Offensively, while L.A. ranks fifth in the NL in scoring at 4.2, the sense is they are underachieving and should be up around 4.6.
What has held this team back is the bullpen, which has lost nine games, in large part by issuing free passes like traffic situations in L.A., leading the NL by a wide margin, 60 percent more than the league norm.
Having Clayton Kershaw back makes the entire pitching staff better, nonetheless, MLB handicappers and those making sports picks have higher expectations.
Towards the end of spring training in Arizona, a long-time baseball writer told me. “You are going to think I’m crazy, but the Rockies could win 86 games this season.” Having seen Colorado, I understood his point because the offense appeared it was strong enough to beat the MLB odds, but whith the same old issues and pitching at the top of the list.
After more than five weeks into the season, the Rockies have a deep and balanced lineup. With Troy Tulowitzki having a career-year in hitting over .400 and right on Miguel Cabrera’s pace for a Triple Crown. Also 3B Nolan Arenado, besides being silky-smooth with the glove, has a 27-game hitting streak.
Will this last, hard to say but when you average six runs a game and are 11-3 in contests decided by four or more runs, this is not a team you will want to face.
San Diego Padres
Only two of the 11 teams in baseball who are allowing less than four runs a contest have a losing record. The club with the worst record is the Padres, who in spite of surrendering a paltry 3.7 RPG are 15-20 (-4.3 units).
The simple fact of the matter is San Diego cannot hit. By now most managers either bench or start platooning players with a .215 batting average. This is what the Padres TEAM BATTING is!
In the National League, the average runs scored is four with an on-base percentage of .311, the Friars are at wretched 2.6 and .266 respectively.
Being 2-8 in games decided by four or more runs, I don’t know how you can back this team when they're favored unless the offensive improves from the bed-ridden to merely sickly.
Arizona appears to have placed a tourniquet on their season with recent results, but it is still an uphill climb similar to the nearby South Mountains for these Diamondbacks. The starting pitching is no longer creating four or more run deficits within the first three innings, letting Arizona breath and improving the overall attitude.
One thing, don’t kid yourself, GM Kevin Towers has done a despicable job in putting this roster together and any real chance of improvement from here forward, starts by playing better in Phoenix where they are 3-13 (-12.2 units).