Just two weeks ago, we lead the internet sensation that is my Official Power Rankings by talking about how broken the Dodgers were. They then lost two games to the lowly Marlins, looking even more broken.
And now, those same Dodgers are just 3 1/2 games out in the NL West.
I try to preach patience up here. I do it over and over until I'm even annoyed with myself. Dead serious. Sometimes I'm sitting up here preaching to settle down and I have this moment with those little guys on my shoulders like you sometimes see in movies or TV shows, one is yelling at me for being the fun police and the other is all calm, telling me to settle down and let the season breathe. Sometimes, I end up going with the devil side ("fun police!") and give in, because, man, it's so annoying to sit here and be the guy telling everyone to settle down. I don't wanna settle down. I'd love to just enjoy the season and react to every game. It's just that after doing for so long, you'd think I would learn to not go too far in reacting to roughly two months. Here's a case where I think I did.
Ten days ago, if you said I could get a mulligan on my preseason predictions, I would have jumped at the chance to switch out the Dodgers as NL West champs. Stupid devil guy on my shoulder. Why?
Because now, I'm thinking I should stay put, though I'm far from confident.
Let's look at this Wild, Wild NL West.
The first-place Rockies have a negative-22 run differential, a terrible offense despite having Coors Field as a home yard, really only two good position players, a losing record at home (9-12) and a ridiculously bad run differential at home (negative-21 in only 21 games).
How could anyone have any confidence in a team with two good position players?
The Diamondbacks were 21-8 and then 24-11. They are now 26-26, sitting at .500 for the first time since they were 0-0 (which doesn't even technically count). While I'm chuckling about the "how do you like them apples" email I got from a Diamondbacks fan on April 9, as if the season were over in less than two weeks, I'm just dumfounded at what's happened here.
It's just ... the offense? It's the WTF offense. Paul Goldschmidt is hitting .203/.323/.380. Ketel Marte is hitting .212/.271/.299. The best hitter on the active roster to this point is Daniel Descalso. Perhaps Jake Lamb being back helps things, Goldschmidt remembers who he is and David Peralta gets hot.
They just seem as broken as the Dodgers were a few weeks ago.
Given the injuries and underperformance they've had, it's actually pretty surprising they aren't worse.
Chris Stratton, Ty Blach and Derek Holland have combined for 33 starts while Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija have combined for 12 (and Shark has been terrible). Closer Mark Melancon has been terrible. Newly-acquired Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen haven't been good. Buster Posey doesn't hit home runs anymore. Joe Panik is hurt.
In looking at this team and where it should be, there's reason for optimism for a late run. If they can somehow hang around until the team is whole, there's a decent chance at a playoff run.
Still, right now this team isn't good.
A rebuilding team lacking talent -- especially in the rotation -- to contend, and yet the Padres are only 6 1/2 games out. The Cubs were 5 1/2 out heading into July 16 last year and won their division by 5 1/2. This is workable!
Eh, it's probably not, but it's an illustration of where this division is. The Padres start becoming fun next season and good in 2020. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
And then we have the five-time defending NL West champs and defending NL champs.
Corey Seager being out for the season hurts, but the Dodgers still have the best players here. No other team looks appealing as things stand.
The voice of reason dude on my left shoulder was probably correct. I should have let the season breathe and settled down about the 16-26 Dodgers. Come October, we'll likely be seeing action in Dodger Stadium again.
|The best record in baseball and they've only had one consistently good starting pitcher so far this season.||1||78-84|
|Their position players are so good, the Yankees just sent a .339 hitter to the minors.||1||99-63|
|Prior to Saturday, the Astros had only allowed more than six runs three times in 52 games. Then they did so in back-to-back games.||--||106-56|
|The Crew is winning every which way. Slugfests, pitchers duels, blowouts, one-run games (13-5), you name it.||3||86-76|
|You know what's gonna be fun? The Nationals visiting the upstart Braves for a four-game series starting Thursday.||5||55-107|
|I love the addition of Alex Colome, especially due to how much Edwin Diaz has been used so far this season. Great work from Jerry Dipoto. They cannot, however, keep up this pace without much better work from the rotation. I don't think they're near as good as their record says right now, but these wins are banked.||2||90-72|
|Uh oh, Rhys Hoskins is down to .234/.367/.415.||1||87-75|
|Rough week, but it was against very good competition. They're fine.||4||101-61|
|Tyler Chatwood has always walked too many guys, but it used to be workable given how good his stuff was. His BB/9 is at an unconscionable 8.38 this season. Watch him pitch and it's even worse than it sounds. He has no clue in the world where any pitch is going. He can't stay in the majors right now. The Cubs need to DL him or send him down until he gets it back to his previous career level.||4||74-88|
|Again, let me point out that Mike Trout is underappreciated. Good lord that game Saturday night in Yankee Stadium. What a monster.||1||73-89|
|In 2014, Miles Mikolas had a 6.44 ERA in 10 starts. Then he went to Japan. The Cardinals signed him back to MLB this past offseason and he might be an All-Star. Fun story.||2||93-69|
|The bullpen is a total mess and they can't seem to get more than a game above .500, but the Indians just went 4-2 in a week against the Cubs and Astros.||4||92-70|
|The Dodgers lead everyone with 18 Rookie of the Year awards in history. They've won two straight now with Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger. And lookie what we have here in Walker Buehler. Remarkable.||6||111-51|
|Storyboard this: Daniel Mengden's breakout season leading to the return of the handlebar mustache.||1||60-102|
|Adam Ottavino had a 5.06 ERA last year and now might be the most filthy reliever this side of Josh Hader. Ottavino is at a 0.95 ERA, 0.64 WHIP and 45 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings this season.||1||68-94|
|Seven losses in their last nine games looks like the start of the backslide, no?||1||62-100|
|Michael Conforto is coming off an injury that could have ruined his career. He got off to a terrible start, too, which was worrisome. He's hitting .290/.353/.548 with five homers and 10 RBI in his last 16 games, so that's encouraging.||--||101-61|
|They've now lost 15 of their last 17. Baseball, man. It can be brutal.||6||74-88|
|I'll take Wilson Ramos as the next key piece to be traded despite the Rays hanging around .500.||1||86-76|
|Don't tell me you're keeping Vlad Jr. in the minors due to him needing defensive work when you're starting Russell Martin at short.||1||92-70|
|I firmly think this team has the capability to be very tough come September. Lots of things need to break right to extend that into October, though it's possible.||3||81-81|
|Every time they get within one or two games of .500 they start losing.||--||78-84|
|Career reliever Blaine Hardy has now made three starts, most recently Sunday. In those three? 2.76 ERA. Good for him, even if the success turns out to be fleeting.||1||66-96|
|Check out Tyson Ross, working himself into being a nice flip candidate for the Padres this coming July.||1||89-73|
|Trade candidate Cole Hamels threw the ball really well against the Yankees and then pretty poorly against the Royals. Baseball, man. Ebbs and flows.||2||68-94|
|Scooter Gennett was released last season by the Brewers and now he's hitting .340/.376/.558 with 13 doubles, 10 homers and 37 RBI before we even get to June. What a story.||1||62-100|
|Mike Moustakas' lack of good free agent offers remains one of the biggest offseason mysteries. Hopefully he gets traded to a contender.||3||65-97|
|Whatever team lands J.T. Realmuto this July -- hopefully they do trade him -- is getting one of the most underrated players in baseball. Fans of his new team will be in love.||--||69-93|
|It's quite amazing how an organization can be so bad for so long at developing quality starting pitchers, but here we are.||3||83-79|
|In Lucas Giolito's Triple-A career, he had 174 strikeouts against 69 walks in 166 innings. So far this season in the bigs he's struck out just 27 with 37 walks in 49 innings. He's still only 23, though.||1||81-81|