Your weekly recap on the Best (and Worst) of the West.
Sept. 5-11, 2022
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the first to secure a guaranteed playoff spot for the 2022 season. OR HAVE THEY? Major League Baseball has admitted to an internal error that means…maybe they themselves don’t understand this expanded playoffs format. Ah well. I’m sure the Dodgers will recover from this news just fine.
If you know anything about Coors Field, you know the ball flies. And boy, did it fly this week. On Tuesday, Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich hit a home run an astounding 499 feet on the fourth pitch of the game. It landed in the third deck of (very) deep right center. Unfortunately for the Brewers, the leadoff moonshot was not enough to overcome the Rockies’ devil magic for the game. The Brewers dropped two games to the Rockies and remain two games behind the Padres for a wildcard spot.
Yelich’s blistering 110-MPH off-the-bat screamer was the second longest in Coors Field history. Until three days later.
On Friday, Rockies first baser C.J. Cron hit an amazing 504-foot home run, the second longest home run in the Statcast era. Cron now shares that record with Giancarlo Stanton. Nomar Mazara still holds the Statcast record at 505 feet. Mazara was with the Rangers at the time in 2019 but now plays for the Padres in the outfield.
The Rockies are out of playoff contention, but they can play spoiler to others. They face both the Chicago teams this week on the road. The Cubs are already eliminated from playoffs, but the White Sox are only 2.5 games behind the Guardians, the current AL Central leaders. The Rockies could cause some issues for the Southsiders, though probably no more damage than Tony La Russa has already done himself.
The Rockies are 61-80 and in last place in the NL West. But they would be tied with the Angels in the AL West and third outright in the NL Central. So that’s neat.
Since August 1st, Diamondback catcher/outfielder Daulton Varsho has hit 11 home runs. That’s the same number in the same span as Shohei Ohtani and Paul Goldschmidt, you know, two dudes in the running for MVP for the entire season.
Varsho came up during the tumultuous 2020 season. His season numbers have been decent, but he’s been hot lately, hitting .304 in his last 15 games.
Also red hot for the Diamondbacks is starter Zac Gallen, who went an incredible 44 and a third innings without giving up a run, the second-longest streak of an active MLB pitcher and seventh-longest all-time. Gallen has a 2.50 ERA on the season but an incredible 0.57 in his last seven starts, which includes his three earned runs from Sunday’s game. He also struck out eleven.
Arizona needs both Gallen and Varsho to stay hot for the next fortnight because looking forward? Oof.
The D-backs are one series into a punishing 18 games in 17 days stretch with no off days. This stretch includes every one of their NL West opponents. They will face the Dodgers eight times in this span, including a doubleheader. As harsh as it is to say, those games really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things as long as everyone stays whole and healthy. The real test will be against the Padres for a four-game series that San Diego must win to stay relevant in the wild card race. And considering how bonkers some series have been at Chase Field recently…might make for some interesting baseball viewing.
The Diamondbacks are 66-73 and playing fun fall ball. They even briefly pulled into third place ahead of the Giants for two days this week in the standings.
San Francisco Giants
Not a fun week for the Giants, though they did pick up a series win against the Chicago Cubs and one win against the Dodgers. It was a rough week filled with a lotta miles and a lotta games, including a one-day doubleheader stop in Milwaukee.
Honestly, the most interesting thing the Giants did this week was becoming the first major league team to hire a professional master sommelier…because of course they did. It’s wine country, and San Francisco is packed with tech money. The hire was life-long Giants fan Evan Goldstein. The idea is to class up the joint, I suppose, and will include collaborations with current and former players. Look, I’m not going to rain on anybody’s parade, ballparks and weird stuff like this usually work. I just draw the line at a wine pairing with a hot dog covered in ketchup and relish and mustard.
But hey, if this guy can find something that works, I’m willing to try it. Maybe. Oh boy, I dunno about that one. It feels very…corporate synergy and networky, and I really hope I’m wrong and being a baseball snob, but it all sounds very…what the hell is this doing in baseball?
Look. Technically, the Giants could get a wild card spot, but that would depend on Milwaukee and San Diego losing a lot more than it would the Giants winning. It’s possible. It’s just not going to happen.
Giants sit at 67-73. They face Atlanta and the Dodgers, both playoff contenders, in the upcoming week. Atlanta will be coming out hard, as they just slipped into second place in the NL East and will have some frustrations to hammer out in Oracle Park. Godspeed, San Francisco.
San Diego Padres
The Padres are holding on to their playoff dreams with tenacity. They won a home series against Arizona two games to one. On a very damp Friday, complete with rain delays, they squeaked a 5-4 win in extras over the Dodgers and momentarily popped ahead of the Phillies in wild card standings. Then the Dodgers came back to do what they do and won the next two games decidedly.
The Padres have one of the more varied remaining schedules in the NL West. In addition to seeing each of their division counterparts in one more series each, they also play the Mariners, Cardinals, and White Sox.
The matchup against the Mariners might prove to be more interesting than an interleague game in September should be. Both teams are in the third wild card slot with a similar lead over the next team vying for a spot. Both teams could really use two wins to keep that lead. And both teams cannot win both games. So what could have been a throwaway fall series might evolve into a battle royale, especially given that these are two teams with a lot of personality and fire.
Padres have a record of 77-64 and have overtaken the Phillies by half a game for the second wild card slot. They are four games over Milwaukee, who are just out of the wild card standings.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Look, they may or may not have clinched a playoff spot and will likely clinch the division later this week. Justin Turner is blistering hot, Max Muncy is back to his most sassy, and Chris Taylor seems to be working his way out of a slump, but really none of this is important.
Y’all. It’s TRAVEL DRESS UP DAY.
You can’t convince me that clubhouse chemistry doesn’t matter when it comes to wins, to mental and even physical health. And oh boy, do the 2022 Dodgers have chemistry in spades. The Dodgers as a team have made a conscious decision to make the clubhouse warm and inviting to newcomers. Be it rookies like Will Smith, who came up and put in a stellar rookie year and has only improved with age, or troubled veterans like Albert Pujols and Joey Gallo, who remember how to have fun playing and thrive again. Nothing says chemistry like seeing all of your teammates be goofy as hell.
The travel day theatrics were not lost on Dodger fans. Hornt Dodger Twitter was more than willing to feast on the table laid out by the Dodger social media team. And what a meal it was.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Joey Gallo won the 2022 Trade Deadline and it’s not even close.
The Dodgers sit at 96-43 and face the Diamondbacks and the Giants on the road this week.