Los Angeles Dodgers
Projected rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu
Key bullpen pieces: Kenley Jansen, Ross Stripling, Pedro Baez
Projected lineup: OF Chris Taylor, SS Corey Seager, 3B Justin Turner* 1B Cody Bellinger, OF Yasiel Puig, OF Matt Kemp, C Yasmani Grandal, 2B/3B Logan Forsythe, 2B Chase Utley* (Forsythe will move to 3B while Justin Turner recovers from a fractured wrist, Utley will start at 2B during that time)
Outlook: The Dodgers took a pretty big hit to their lineup (no pun intended) after star 3B Justin Turner fractured his wrist after getting hit by a pitch in Spring Training. The good thing about the Dodgers though is that they have depth and a lot of versatile players who can play a lot of positions should any player go down with injury. Enrique Hernandez burst onto the scene last postseason as more than just a utility guy and of course, Clayton Kershaw will go back to being his dominant himself this year.
Projected rotation: Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, Zack Greinke, Zack Godley, Patrick Corbin
Key bullpen pieces: Archie Bradley, Yoshihisa Hirano, Andrew Chafin
Projected lineup: OF David Peralta, OF A.J. Pollock, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 3B Jake Lamb, OF Steven Souza, C Alex Avila, 2B Ketel Marte, SS Nick Ahmed
Outlook: After making the postseason last season, I think the Diamondbacks go back to the postseason this year again. The bats are there, the bullpen is there, the rotation is pretty consistent. The thing that makes them a wild card team though is the Dodgers as they are just too good of a team and I don’t think the Diamondbacks are quite ready to compete for that divisional crown. If they kept onto J.D. Martinez, yes, I think they would be a legitimate threat to break the Dodgers streak of five straight division titles.
Projected rotation: Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, Chad Bettis, Kyle Freeland, German Marquez
Key bullpen pieces: Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee
Projected lineup: OF Charlie Blackmon, 2B D.J. LeMahieu, OF Carlos Gonzalez, 3B Nolan Arenado, SS Trevor Story, 1B Ian Desmond, OF Gerardo Parra, C Chris Iannetta
Outlook: I cannot remember the Rockies ever having a true “Ace” of a pitcher. Even when they went to the World Series in 2007, their best pitcher was Jeff Francis. Jeff friggin Francis. The Rockies are a weird team honestly. Coors Field giveth and Coors Field taketh away. The hitting numbers at Coors Field are inflated thanks to the altitude which makes their offense so much better than it already is but then their pitching numbers are inflated as well as the mix of a mediocre rotation and Coors Field is not a good mix.
San Francisco Giants
Projected rotation: Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Ty Blach, Derek Holland, Jeff Samardzija
Key bullpen pieces: Mark Melancon, Hunter Strickland, Tony Watson
Projected lineup: 2B Joe Panik, 1B Brandon Belt, OF Andrew McCutchen, C Buster Posey, 3B Evan Longoria, SS Brandon Crawford, OF Hunter Pence, OF Austin Jackson
Outlook: I’m not buying the Giants hype this year, I don’t care that it’s an even year. Their core is getting older, there isn’t that much young talent on this team, sure they might be contending for a Wild Card spot come September but I think they’re going to fizzle out once they have to face teams such as the Rockies twice, the Mets, the Brewers on the road, the Cardinals on the road and the Dodgers.
San Diego Padres
Projected rotation: Clayton Richard, Dinelson Lamet, Luis Perdomo, Bryan Mitchell, Robbie Erlin
Key bullpen pieces: Brad Hand, Craig Stammen, Kirby Yates
Projected lineup: OF Manuel Margot, 3B Chase Headley, OF Wil Myers, 1B Eric Hosmer, OF Jose Pirela, C Austin Hedges, SS Freddy Galvis, 2B Carlos Asuaje
Outlook: Just like the Braves, be patient Padres fans. Your time will come and it will come soon. They have the top farm system in all of baseball, they just secured slugger Eric Hosmer for seven years, they have nice, young pieces such as Manny Margot, Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe and Corey Spangenberg, the Padres will be a very good team within the next 3-5 years, this season though, will be a rebuilding year and the main focus will be to develop the younger guys, both in the MLB and in the minors.