MLB Preview: National League West

With opening day approaching, the Dodgers are poised to lock in the National League West for the sixth straight season. The Diamondbacks, Giants and the Rockies will look to dethrone the reigning champions in the west.

What was once a two-team race between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants is no more in the National League West. The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies proved in 2017 that they are a force to be reckoned with.

The Giants added some pieces to get back into contention while the San Diego Padres added a weapon of their own. Here is a look at how the NL West could shake up in 2018.

Los Angeles Dodgers (99-63)

The Dodgers will be favored to repeat as division champions. It will be a small stepping stone compared to their ultimate goal, winning their first World Series championship since 1988.

Their young nucleus (six position players 27 years old or less) contributed to 770 runs, 1,347 hits and 221 home runs. Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger set a National League rookie record with 39 home runs last season. In his sophomore season, Bellinger will be a key source of offense for the Dodgers. Even if Bellinger is struggling, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Justin Turner or Corey Seager can carry the offense.

With Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw leading one of the deepest rotations in baseball and Kenley Jansen being one of the best closers in the game, the Dodgers look to remain the strong force that they were a year ago.

Arizona Diamondbacks (91-71)

The Diamondbacks won 93 games last season, a 24-game improvement from 2016 and played their way to the National League Division Series. Part of the reason was due to the play of J.D. Martinez. Martinez is no longer on this team; however, this team can still be the Wild Card contender that they were a year ago.

With the addition of Steven Souza, the Diamondbacks replaced Martinez’s production in the lineup. Souza does not have the same pop as Martinez, but he gets on base by walking a lot and is a good contact hitter.

Another big addition for Arizona was the acquisition of Brad Boxberger. Boxberger set a career high in saves (41) in 2015. Boxberger will have to remain healthy as he has pitched in just 57 games the last two seasons. Archie Bradley will take over the closer role in 2018, setting up a good one-two combination in the late innings.

Robbie Ray and Zack Godley took big steps and made in the starting rotation along with ace Zack Greinke. If Taijuan Walker takes a big leap in 2018 and Shelby Miller comes back strong from the disabled list by the All-Star break, the D-backs can earn a spot in the Wild Card game.

Colorado Rockies (88-74)

Colorado ended their season losing to Arizona in the Wild Card game. With Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw coming in and the re-signing of Jake McGee, the Rockies bullpen remains solid if not better from a year ago. 

Jon Gray proved he could carry the load and be the ace going forward for the Rockies. German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela, Jeff Hoffman and Tyler Anderson make for a well-rounded rotation.

Offense won’t be a problem as Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon and Ian Desmond will supply the Rox with the offense to keep them in games.

San Francisco Giants (82-80)

San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria, left, and Andrew McCutchen wait to bat during practice prior to a spring training baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria, left, and Andrew McCutchen wait to bat during practice prior to a spring training baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

In the off-season, the Giants traded for Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria. The trade will be good enough to get them back in the win column, but not enough for playoff contention. Along with Buster Posey and Brandon Belt, the lineup could be one of the most underrated in the National League.

One of the factors that can hold the Giants back is their pitching. The starting pitching will have to be a lot better in 2018 if they want to see results.  Madison Bumgarner was limited to 17 starts and four victories last season after a dirt bike accident sidelined him in April. Johnny Cueto went 8-8 with a 4.52 ERA in 25 starts while Jeff Samardzija went 9-15 with a 4.10 ERA in 32 starts.

San Diego Padres (63-99)

Eric Hosmer #30 of the San Diego Padres poses on photo day during MLB Spring Training at Peoria Sports Complex on February 21, 2018 in Peoria, Arizona. (Feb. 20, 2018 - Source: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America)
Eric Hosmer #30 of the San Diego Padres poses on photo day during MLB Spring Training at Peoria Sports Complex on February 21, 2018 in Peoria, Arizona. (Feb. 20, 2018 - Source: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America)

The Padres are still a few years away from competing with the power houses in the National League West. San Diego boasts one of the best farm systems in baseball. Luis Urias, Fernadno Tatis Jr. accompanying stud pitchers Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez wait in the wings.

San Diego took a big step forward with the free agent signing of Eric Hosmer, allowing Wil Myers to return to his corner outfield spot. Carlos Asuaje, Allen Cordoba and Manuel Margot are a couple of youngsters that will make San Diego fun to watch in 2018.