Texas Rangers

Giants could surpass Dodgers in NL West behind strong rotation, bullpen

Veteran right-hander Johnny Cueto boosts the Giants’ rotation after signing a six-year, $130 million deal in December.
Veteran right-hander Johnny Cueto boosts the Giants’ rotation after signing a six-year, $130 million deal in December. TNS

San Francisco Giants

Last season: 84-78 (2nd)

Last World Series: 2014 (Beat Royals)

Postseason potential: With a one-two punch such as Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, does it much matter who follows in the rotation? It does and the Giants, who have won the World Series in ’10, ’12 and ’14, will need need one or two others to step up if they want to keep their even-year title streak intact. Jake Peavy and Matt Cain are strong candidates to do just that after injury-shortened seasons. The bullpen, including closer Santiago Casilla, is one of the best the NL. If the aging lineup, including former UT Arlington star Hunter Pence and catcher Buster Posey, remains healthy the Giants should be the team to beat.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Last season: 92-70 (1st)

Last World Series: 1988 (Beat A’s)

Postseason potential: As with the Giants, beyond left-hander Clayton Kershaw, arguably the game’s best pitcher, the rotation is shockingly thin with the departure of Zack Greinke to the D’backs. Scott Kazmir and Brett Anderson, also both lefties, pitched more than 180 innings a year ago. The lineup still packs some punch with six likely starters with at least 11 homers in ’15, including Adrian Gonzalez, who led the team with 28 homers and 90 RBIs. First-year manager Dave Roberts takes over for Don Mattingly, who had won three consecutive West titles. Does the chemistry fall apart?

Arizona Diamondbacks

Last season: 79-83 (3rd)

Last World Series: 2001 (Beat Yankees)

Postseason potential: The addition of ace Zack Greinke from the Dodgers not only gives the D’backs a legit No. 1 starter, but also will help them compete head-to-head with the returning division champs. Shelby Miller gives them two dependable starters, but it’s probably not enough to contend for the division title against the Dodgers and Giants. Still, if the offense, led by Paul Goldschmidt (.321, 33 HR, 110 RBIs), gets a lift from Yasmany Tomas playing a full season in the outfield, perhaps a wild card berth is possible.

San Diego Padres

Last season: 74-88 (4th)

Last World Series: 1998 (Lost to Yankees)

Postseason potential: A team in transition with new manager Andy Green is likely to struggle even more in ’16. Right fielder Matt Kemp (23 HR, 100 RBIs) can’t do it alone. The Padres’ offense hit an NL-worst .243 and was one of the worst in the majors in averaging just four runs a game. James Shields (13-7) and Tyson Ross (10-12) are solid atop the rotation, but former TCU star Andrew Cashner (6-16) needs a bounce-back season.

Colorado Rockies

Last season: 68-94 (5th)

Last World Series: 2007 (Lost to Red Sox)

Postseason potential: Their 5.04 team ERA was the worst in the league in ’15, and there seems to be little in the way of changes in the rotation to address the issue. They did add closer Jason Motte and relievers Chad Qualls and Jake McGee to their bullpen, which will only pay off if the rotation hands them leads in the first place. Third baseman Nolan Arenado (.287, 42 HR, 130 RBIs) is a legit slugger and right fielder Carlos Gonzalez had a career-high 40 homers, but the offense needs to perform on the road as well as it does in Denver to be a factor in the division.

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