San Diego Padres
Projected Rotation - Jake Peavy, Greg Maddux, Chris Young, Clay Hensley, Mike Thompson
Secondary Options - Tim Stauffer, Shawn Estes
One if by strikeout, two if by ground out, three if by fly out.
The San Diego Padres might not have righty/lefty balance in their starting
rotation, but they do have several different types of pitchers. Don't let
his 4.07 ERA last year fool you; Jake Peavy might be the best power pitcher in
the National League. Greg Maddux showed that he still has some life in his
sinker with the Dodgers, and Chris Young took full advantage of spacious PetCo
park by inducing tons of fly balls.
But the losses of Dave Roberts and Josh Barfield hurt the Padres outfield and
infield defenses, respectively. Moreover, the fifth starter's spot looks
like real trouble. San Diego is currently negotiating with Jeff Weaver,
David Wells, and Chan Ho Park to fill that void. Until one of them signs,
we have to view this rotation as one of the thinnest and most susceptible to
injury in the division despite a potentially excellent front four.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Projected Rotation - Jason Schmidt, Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Randy Wolf, Chad Billingsley
Secondary Options - Brett Tomko, Mark Hendrickson, Eric Stults, Joel Hanrahan, TJ Nall
The Dodgers are the one team in the NL West that can afford to shop one of
their starters for help on offense. Brad Penny has been the subject of
trade rumors all year. Truthfully, even if he were traded, this would
still be the deepest rotation in the National League. Schmidt and Lowe
might be the best 1-2 punch around. They eat innings and can dominate in
any given game. Randy Wolf can put up some terrific numbers when healthy,
and provides some left handed balance to the rotation.
The Dodgers don't even need to rely on a breakout year by Chad Billingsley,
as they have several other young prospects and experienced veterans are ready to
step in if Billingsley needs more seasoning. The former first round pick
showed flashes of brilliance last year, though. If he can consistently
throw strikes, the Dodgers would have five pitchers who could potentially be #1
or #2 starters for any team in baseball.
San Francisco Giants
Projected Rotation - Barry Zito, Matt Cain, Matt Morris, Noah Lowry,
Secondary Options - Russ Ortiz, Jonathan Sanchez, Patrick Misch
If everything goes right for the Giants rotation, it could be formidable
indeed. Matt Morris and Barry Zito could each return to their 2003 forms,
Matt Cain could pitch all year like he did in the second half of his rookie
season, and Noah Lowry could be healthy enough to become effective once again.
Unfortunately for them, it is probably more likely that Morris and Zito continue
to decline, Matt Cain suffers a sophomore slump, and Lowry returns to the
disabled list. Considering that Russ Ortiz is their main insurance policy,
the Giants had better hope that all five of their starters are at least
The entire staff should be aided by the acquisition of Dave Roberts, who
along with Randy Winn give the Giants two quick outfielders able to pick up
Barry Bonds' slack. That's a pretty significant upgrade from last year's
roster, which sometimes had Bonds, Moises Alou, and Steve Finley all hobbling
around the same outfield. But even an improved defense doesn't boost up
the Giants' front five from the lower echelon of NL West rotations.
Projected Rotation - Jeff Francis, Aaron Cook, Taylor Buchholtz, Jason Hirsh, Josh Fogg
Secondary Options - Byung-Hyung Kim, Rodrigo Lopez
Thanks to the trade of Jason Jennings to the Houston Astros, the Rockies
probably have the deepest pitching staff in franchise history, as well as one of
the fastest center fielders in the game to flag down most of their fly balls.
Indeed, Willy Taveras should help out this young and improving staff, although
Aaron Cook allows so few balls in the air to really benefit. Brian
Lawrence appears poised to join the cast of veterans ready to step in in case
any of their four primary youngsters has trouble.
The biggest problem with the Rockies' staff is that it lacks a true ace to
match up against the Brandon Webbs, Jason Schmidts, and Jake Peavys of the
division. Either Francis or Cook could develop into one this year, but
even then the Rockies' #3 starter likely wouldn't match up too well against the
other #3's in the division. Taylor Buchholtz's reliance on the curve ball
does not suit his new environment, possibly stunting his growth as a pitcher.
Jason Hirsh is going to be great, but should struggle in his rookie season.
The Rockies are taking their ballclub in the right direction, but they are
likely to struggle for one more year before their potential is realized.
Projected Rotation - Brandon Webb, Randy Johnson, Livan Hernandez,
Doug Davis, Enrique Gonzalez
Secondary Options - Edgar Gonzalez, Dustin Nippert, Micah Owings
Costly though he was, Randy Johnson gives the Arizona Diamondbacks some
possible veteran upside in their starting rotation to go along with the
guaranteed upside of Brandon Webb. No one is looking at Doug Davis or
Livan Hernandez to be a Cy Young candidate, but they should be valuable
workhorses, especially if Johnson isn't able to start the season in the majors.
They combine with Brandon Webb to give Arizona three likely 200+ inning
The D'Backs also have a lot of potential upside in their battle for the #5
starter. Both of the Gonzalezes have shown flashes of brilliance at the
big league level, but even they do not have the kind of upside that Nippert or
Owings has. Dustin Nippert probably has the best curveball in the entire
organization and Owings has gone 17-3 since being drafted. Either one of
them has the potential to make a major impact. If one of them does break
out and Randy Johnson returns to even his 2005 form, this staff could
potentially challenge the Dodgers' for best in the West.
Read more from Keith Glab at