There's a Shakeup In The NL West

As we wind up the second week of Major League Baseball, the most surprising developments might be occurring in the NL West, where the vaunted Dodgers, who came one game from winning The World Series are sagging and the division appears to be wide open.... mostly.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have blasted off to an 8-2 record and a 4.5 game lead over The Dodgers. With such a long season, many fans and punters are dismissive of these results, which is foolish. Early games and late games count the same and if you were to say before the season that Arizona would magically be bestowed 4.5 wins, the odds and fan opinion would reflect that. Yet, when they actually earn a 4.5 game lead, we waive it off. This is no fluke, as the introduction of a humidor to their home games has bolstered their pitching. Zack Greinke will deliver his usual all-star season. Number two starter and number two Zack, Godley is showing that last year's breakout was no anomaly. More importantly, Patrick Corbin is finally looking like a star again, and there is a viable explanation for that, in his increased use of his lethal slider. Tiijuan Walker is looking like an outstanding number 4, which gives the team a top-notch starting staff, though there is little depth in the minors. Consider that Paul Goldschmidt has not started to hit yet, and he is one of the ten best hitters in baseball. Add to that the fact that Steven Souza Jr. will return from injury in a few weeks. It looks to me like the Dbacks will improve rather than falter.

Another surprise is the success of the Giants. They took massive hits in the preseason losing ace, Madison Bumgarner and number 3, Jeff Samardzija. Then, as the season began it was closer, Mark Melancon. However, they've managed to hang in there with a 4-4 record, with Hunter Strickland stepping up as closer, Johnny Cueto returning to form and some game-winning heroics from new addition, Andrew McCutchen. If they can continue to grit it out until the injured players return, they might still manage a wild card spot.

The Rockies are also .500 and are something of a mystery, as they always are. Playing in the most extreme hitter's park in baseball, it is always a challenge for their pitching staff to hold up mentally and physically. But Nolan Arenado is a hot pick for MVP this season. Trevor Story is due for a bounce-back and talented youngsters like Ryan McMahon, David Dahl and even Brandon Rodgers might be contributing to the explosive offense by season's end. It wouldn't be surprising for them to make a wildcard run, or to have a losing record.

San Diego was expected to bring up the rear and so far, they've done just that. An injury to their best player, Wil Myers, hasn't helped much. The Padres are obviously not as bad as their 2-8 record and there is a lot of young talent that might shine as the season goes on, but don't expect them to put it together this year.

Finally, the LA Dodgers are close to being in trouble. Ace of aces, Clayton Kershaw is 0-2. He pitched well and will continue to. However, the team has deployed one of the most powerful weapons in baseball twice and shot themselves in the foot both times. Kershaw will start fewer than 30 games and he'll need to use two of them just to cancel out these two. It's possible the staff, including Kenley Jansen, is overextended from last year's postseason. It's possible they are just unlucky. But they could easily drop another 2-3 games in the standings, and then climbing back would be no easy task.

Intertops has the Diamondbacks to win the west at +175.

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