The heightened anticipation for the 2020 MLB season is going have its payoff soon. There are endless possibilities and almost all teams have potential around the league. The level of talent and movement around the league makes predicting how the season will ultimately shake up can be a daring task, but that’s exactly what we are going to attempt to do.
The National League West is a perfect division to start with. At best, you could argue that four of the five teams are primed for playoff contention.
5. San Francisco Giants
Placing the Giants at the bottom of the division doesn’t feel right. This is the same organization that dominated the early 2010’s, winning three World Series from 2010-14. They have, however, struggled in recent years.
San Francisco hasn’t been able to do finish better than third since the 2017 campaign. Last season alone, they finished with an 77-85 record. The Giants are led by mostly regressing veterans in Evan Longoria and Buster Posey. Their top two starting pitchers going into this season are Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto.
Samardzija has been an average at best pitcher throughout his career, and it’s hard to imagine him doing much better at age 35. Cueto on the other hand hasn’t been able to tally double-digits in starts since 2017. That season, he went 8-8 with a 4.52 ERA across 25 starts.
The Giants are too dependent on their veterans, while other teams in the division are expected to grow with their young core. Unless multiple veterans have renaissance seasons, expect the team to finish at the bottom of the division.
4. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies have been surrounded by rumors throughout the offseason. Questions and rumors surrounding the team moving Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story have been the talking point for the team. At the time of this writing, however, both individuals are still members of the team.
To date, the Rockies are a difficult franchise to read. Any lineup that consists of Arenado, Story, Daniel Murphy and Charlie Blackmon seems like a force to be reckoned with. That doesn’t factor in that they plan in the hitters-friendly Coors Field.
Their pitching staff overall seems decent as well. Wade Davis has been a disappointment, but he’s just a few years removed from being considered one of the best relievers in the game. In the wake of his struggle, Scott Oberg had his second straight season as a quality reliever. He’s posted two straight seasons under 2.45 ERA.
Their starting rotation is led by 24-year old German Marquez and Jon Gray. Neither of the two can be considered an ace yet, but they are a solid beginning to any starting rotation.
The Rockies are in a position to grow, but the problem is the other half of their team. The second half of the lineup is led by Ryan McMahon and David Dahl, who haven’t proven themselves quite yet.
After those two, there isn’t much to write about when it comes to the Rockies. In another division, they might be talented enough to finish towards the top of the division. However, when you consider the competition in the NL West, they are a few pieces short of having a shot at a playoff run.
3. San Diego Padres
The Padres made it clear that they are willing to do whatever takes after picking up past free agent headliners in Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer. In the 2020 offseason, they picked up Tommy Pham and spent $34M to address their bullpen with Drew Pomeranz.
Fernando Tatis has potential to be an elite player when it’s all said and done. They also have key pieces such as Kirby Yates, Wil Myers and Manuel Margot. The Padres are on their way to being a playoff contender; particularly if the rumors about picking up Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox are true.
However, even with Betts being on the team, the Padres still have other needs to address. Their bullpen is weak behind Yates and their starting rotation isn’t much to write about behind Chris Paddock.
A lot of the team’s potential success is based off of their beliefs that Machado and Hosmer will live up to their contracts. Both have played solid to date, but have been lesser versions of what the Padres were expecting.
San Diego is on their way to success, but are a few pieces short. I’d still be an optimistic fan, as I expect them to jump to third place in 2020.
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks addressed their average starting rotation when they inked Madison Bumgarner to a five-year, $85M contract. Bumgarner hasn’t been the same since 2016, but at the age of 30, its hard to believe he doesn’t have some solid years left.
Bumgarner ridded himself of the injury bug after he started a league-leading 34 games last season. He allows Arizona to have a solid 1-2 punch with Robbie Ray, who has proven to be a solid starting pitcher in his own right.
The team has also rebranded themselves as the ‘Arizona Marte Brothers’ as they acquired Starling Marte from the Pittsburgh Pirates. This allows 2019 breakout star Ketel Marte to settle in at second base, while getting stability in center field from Starling.
The team is in a great position behind other solid contributors in Eduardo Escobar, Kole Calhoun and bullpen leader Archie Bradley.
In another division, the Diamondbacks might have finished at the top this upcoming season. They will finish second place this year, but it’s more due to the fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers are that much better.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
An argument could be made that the Dodgers should have at least one World Series win after falling to the Houston Astros in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox the following year.
That doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Los Angeles has won the NL West every year dating back to 2013, and have showed no signs of slowing down.
Their elite offense is led by a great young core of Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and others. Their rotation is also one of the best in the league behind two aces in Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler.
The weakest aspect of the team is their bullpen, which is still solid behind the newly-acquired Blake Treinen and Kenley Jansen. The Dodgers have all the talent needed for another World Series appearance.
If the team picks up any other pieces such as Mookie Betts or David Price, they might become the ultimate favorites to win the World Series this season.
Image Rights: AP
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