Dodgers Face Stiff Competition in NL West

After a 1-2 start, the Los Angeles Dodgers head to Florida to take on the 2-1 Marlins on Friday night. I know it’s just April, but the NL West is already looking like a three, maybe four team race. The Dodgers no longer only have the Colorado Rockies to worry about. The San Francisco Giants, and Arizona Diamonbacks could have their sights set on LA’s division crown.

The Dodgers, who lost the opening series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, 1-2, were able to score 18 runs in the first three games of  the season. However, their pitching and defense coughed up 17 runs to the lowly Pirates (2-1). In my mind, the Dodgers have fierce competition this year in the NL West. Much like the AL West, the NL West figures to be a competitive division this year, especially if the Giants and D-backs are in the picture. The Giants swept the Houston Astros thanks to great pitching and timely hitting, and the D-backs took two of three from the Padres.

Like I’ve said, it’s only April, but I still believe the NL West is going to be a very fun division to watch this season. The Dodgers pitching staff has opened up with some problems, and if the problems carry out through the rest of the season, LA is in trouble. I would’ve liked to see them retain Randy Wolf, but they didn’t. Instead they place their faith in a rotation that includes, Vincente Padilla, Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and Charlie Haeger.

Padilla, who opened the season the Dogders, got rocked by the Pirates and Kershaw wasn’t much better in his 2010 debut. Billingsley, who struggled during the second half of 2009, pitched solidly in his first start of the season yesterday. The Dodgers will turn to Kuroda to get them going tonight against the Marlins (7:05 pm EST).

Offensively, the Dodgers should have no problems. They’ve got a really good hitting team, and they boast a tremendous core of outfielders. Matt Kemp, Andre Either and Manny Ramirez will drive in their share of runs. Kemp who I think will come close to a 30/30 season will be the most crucial guy on offense this year. He’s a talented guy who has the ability to lead this Dodgers offense. The Dodgers have guys all throughout their lineup who can drive in runs. I think a guy that’s undervalued and sometimes overlooked is 3B Casey Blake, who drove in 79 runs last season. Blake is another guy that the Dodgers can usually count on for some offensive production.

Pitching will be the key for success this year for the Dodgers. If Billingsley and Kershaw can continue to mature as pitchers, everything should fall into place.

This was my first post for Lasorda’s Lair, and I will continue posting once or twice a week. I’m currently the Lead Writer for the A’s site here on FanSided as well (swinginas.com).My hope is that you’ll continue to come to Lasorda’s Lair for all your Los Angeles Dodgers-related news! Thanks for reading!

Tags: Andre Either Arizona Diamondbacks Chad Billingsely Clayton Kershaw Florida Marlins Los Angeles Dodgers Manny Ramirez Matt Kemp MLB NL West Pittsburgh Pirates San Francisco Giants Vicente Padilla

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