The San Diego Padres have been a nice story thus far. We are almost at the All Star break and they are still in first place by three games. Their pitching has been phenomenal all season with the starting rotation as strong as the bullpen. But despite how strong they have been, the Dodgers, Rockies and Giants have hung in there and nobody in the division besides the Diamondbacks are out of this race.
It's funny how two of the teams try to win the same way and so do the other two teams. The Giants and Padres try to throw great pitching at you and hit just enough to support it and the Dodgers and the Rockies try to slug you to death and hope the pitching holds on long enough to win the games. It would seem over the long haul that pitching will hold the day, but pitchers get hurt easier than hitters and one or two injuries to either the Padres or the Giants could sink them.
The Padres need a bat or two. It seems impossible to think that their pitching will remain this good. Besides Garland, the rotation is comprised of all young guys who can falter as the innings pile up. Their amazing bullpen has started to crack a bit as Gregorsen gave up a homer last night to lose the game. It seems hard to imagine that their storybook season can keep going without improving their offense a bit.
The Rockies still seem to be the team with the best chance to make a run. They have some big studs in the rotation with Jiminez and Chacin. Francis, other than last night, has pitched well and Cook is serviceable. The offense will be there, especially at home. Their question marks will be if they can win enough on the road and if they can hit enough on the road. But this is a dangerous team with a swagger and they will be in the thick of things until the end of it. Their bullpen is not very good either.
The Dodgers are a puzzle. They have enough offense on paper, with or without Manny. The question is their bullpen and the bottom third of their batting order. As the Fan has written in this space before, Martin, Dewitt and Blake are rally killers. It seems a major mistake was made not keeping Orlando Hudson who is still a fine player but didn't gel with Torre for some reason. Torre is a factor in this race. He has a way of nursing his teams into the playoffs despite weaknesses. We'll see.
The Giants can make a run too. The combination of Cain, Sanchez and Lincecum are already top notch and can win any given match up. Last night, they got a big lift from Bumgarner who seems to be back and in great form. If Bumgarner stays that good, and they get enough offense from Posey, Sandoval and others, they can win three out of every four the rest of the season. It's not inconceivable. They could use some bullpen help though.
This race is far from over and four teams have a legitimate shot at making a run and taking over the division. Sure, everyone is rooting for the underdog Padres and if they can finish off this Cinderella season, it would be a wonderful story. But if the Fan were a betting man, he wouldn't put a big bet on that happening. It's going to be fun to watch and that's all you can ask for for the fan base of those four teams.