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2023 NL West Preview: Dodgers or Padres?

2023 NL West

Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

2023 NL West Preview: Dodgers or Padres?

In week 3 of our 2023 MLB division previews leading up to Opening Day, we have one of the most intriguing divisions in baseball, the NL West.

No one knew what to expect out of the NL West last season. The division was coming off a historically surprising Giants squad winning 107 games. The team with the best regular season record didn’t go the farthest that postseason, however. San Francisco would fall to their hated rivals LA in the division round that season.

It was more of the same in 2022: the best team in the regular season, a 111-game winning Dodgers squad, was eliminated in the DS by a division rival that they squashed in the regular season. The Padres got really hot last postseason and showed everyone what they could do when the lights were brightest.

The NL West will look a little different in 2023. For back-to-back seasons, the best regular season team has emerged by kicking the crap out of the rest of the division. I don’t think the chips will fall that way this year. This division is going to end up very tight at the end of the year.

5th Place: Colorado Rockies

The Colorado Rockies had an F-tier off-season. I don’t care if they were out of contention once Kyle Tucker caught the flyball to end the 2022 season.

It was swinging around the rumor mill this offseason that the Rockies were going to take a swing at Cody Bellinger. When that failed, they had no plan B. They simply never got an outfielder, although it was probably their biggest need.

Pierce Johnson was their biggest off-season pickup. They had a chance to trade Jose Iglesias last deadline and passed. I see no direction, no spending, no tenacity or effort to make this roster any better than it was last season.

I hope Kyle Freeland and German Marquez are bound to have bounce-back years. That would be a nice story for the Rockies because you clearly aren’t going anywhere in 2023. And hey, maybe you can trade them at the deadline for pieces like you have with every other decent player who has graced the purple and black.

Oh and Monfort? Your team will indeed not be playing .500 ball this season. Sell the team to someone who cares!

Projected record: (64-98)

4th Place: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks are finally trending in the right direction again. I liked a lot of the moves they had this off-season.

The headliner was trading away Daulton Varsho to Toronto for Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and highly touted prospect, Gabriel Moreno. That was a move that made too much sense for Arizona. They got a good MLB piece and a big prospect without having to shed any of their farm system.

Ketel Marte is one of the most skilled players in the sport. Christian Walker has been criminally underrated these past few seasons. Their lineup is pretty decent. They also have been building their farm for quite a long time with high-end prospects galore.

Evan Longoria is a good veteran presence. Kyle Lewis could revitalize his career with a new team as well.

Zac Gallen is an ace and Merrill Kelly is a good two-starter. The rest of the rotation could use some work. They have a promising-but-not-amazing bullpen. The addition of Andrew Chafin was much needed.

I can’t hate too much on the D-Backs off-season. They won’t be contenders in 2023, but they could be a thorn in the side of some of the other NL West squads. In two years’ time, watch out.

Projected record: (76-86)

3rd Place: San Francisco Giants

Man, what a rough offseason for the San Francisco Giants.

Aaron Judge was apparently in play for the Giants. When that didn’t work out, they had their plan B in place and executed it. Carlos Correa was a Giant.

And then, he wasn’t. A failed physical because of a questionable ankle led the Giants to back out of the deal. It was a crushing loss, losing out on Judge and then Correa stings badly. They added Michael Conforto and Mitch Haniger as consolation prizes.

Keeping Joc Pederson around was huge. He quietly had an MVP-type season last year. The lineup’s biggest weakness is the corner infielders. They would love for former top prospect Joey Bart to bounce back in 2023.

Their rotation could be very good in 2023. Their one through five is really solid. Sean Manaea was a good pickup, Logan Webb will be their workhorse. Their bullpen and staff are better than Arizona’s, which is why I think they’ll finish ahead of the D-Backs in 2023.

I don’t quite think their roster stacks up with the big boys of the NL West just yet.

We will look back at this offseason for the Giants and remember what didn’t happen. Who knows, maybe not signing Correa was a blessing in disguise. But for now, it hurts.

Projected record: (83-79)

2nd Place: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers’ offseason was underwhelming, which is not what we’re used to seeing from LA. For a team that won 111 games last season, they didn’t seem so eager to retain the pieces that brought them so much success.

Trea Turner is gone. Tyler Anderson went to the other LA team and Justin Turner is in Boston.

Their bullpen took some hits this off-season as well. Blake Treinen could be out for the whole season. Chris Martin and Craig Kimbrel are gone as well.

LA wasn’t dormant, however. They filled one of their biggest needs when they signed DH J.D. Martinez. Clayton Kershaw is destined to be a Dodger for life. Noah Syndergaard even joins the fold as a rotation option. Alex Reyes was a good pickup for the bullpen but he has to miss some time as well.

The Miguel Rojas trade was a smart one, along with the David Peralta addition. Those guys will add depth to their lineup.

I’m not going to sit here and say the Dodgers won’t be amongst the best teams in baseball in 2023. However, I think the roster took some serious blows, and they weren’t as quick to replace their holes as past Dodgers teams. Something tells me they’re holding their hand and going for the big fish next off-season in Shohei Ohtani.

Projected record: (99-63), 2nd NL Wild Card

1st Place: San Diego Padres

The Padres slayed the giant in the 2022 NLDS. This time around, I think they are the giant.

Looking at this roster, the Padres might have one of the most complete teams in all of baseball. Their lineup is monstrous. Fernando Tatis Jr. will be back from suspension in April. Manny Machado and Juan Soto are just the beginning. Don’t forget about the newest $300 million man in town, Xander Bogaerts. They added Matt Carpenter and Nelson Cruz for DH help.

They strengthened the rotation when they extended Yu Darvish. Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo should also help with depth in that department. Their bullpen is underrated with breakout second-year players like Robert Suarez and Steven Wilson. The ‘pen is headlined by one of the best relievers in the sport, Josh Hader.

The Padres did enough to jump the Dodgers for the division, and I think they narrowly edge them out at the end of the season. They play LA seven times in September, including a series during the last week of the season. That’s the series that we will look back on come October.

Projected record: (101-61), 2nd seed in NL

That concludes our National League preview!

The NL West will no doubt be a sweat down the stretch of the 2023 season. The Dodgers won the division by 22 games last season, a feat I just don’t see happening again.

It will be interesting to see how the D-Backs and Giants match up against each other. I think both teams are very even, and it will come down to their head-to-head games.

As for the big boys, San Diego was more hungry than LA was this off-season.

I think the Padres have done enough to climb the mountain. Now, it’s just a matter of reaching the summit.

***

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