The best overall pitching in the National League West belongs to the Dodgers, but the Rockies aren’t far behind, at least when it comes to youth and depth.
The Dodgers’ biggest addition is reliever Joe Kelly, who grew up a Dodgers fan and ate Dodger Dogs sitting in the left field seats at Dodger Stadium. Kelly, 30, helps a bullpen that goes thin when the postseason arrives. He pitched for World Series champion Boston last season.
Arizona is without Patrick Corbin, now a National. The Giants have Madison Bumgarner and Derek Holland leading a rotation that has questions (Jeff Samardzija) and growing prospects.
San Diego’s rotation has the top two spots filled going into spring training. After that, it’s a battle of the prospects.
Here is what’s going on with pitching in the NL West:
ARIZONA: The Diamondbacks added RHP Luke Weaver, 25, to the rotation. ... The ace is RHP Zack Greinke, 35, who is paid $34 million a year and coming off two consecutive seasons each of least 200 innings and ERAs of 3.20 and 3.21. ... Arizona is looking for bounceback seasons from LHP Robbie Ray and RHP Zack Godley. Ray had a 2.89 ERA in 2017, but last season, he had an oblique injury and slipped to 130 innings and a 3.73 ERA. Godley, too, established himself in 2017 with a 3.37 ERA, which rose to 4.48 last season. ... Weaver, acquired from St. Louis in the Paul Goldschmidt trade, is a project the D-backs hope to fix. Weaver was the Cardinals’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2016, but has struggled in the big leagues. Last year, his ERA was 4.95. Weaver was the 27th overall pick by the Cardinals in 2014 draft. ... RHP Taijuan Walker, out following Tommy John surgery, could return after the All-Star break. ... RHP Archie Bradley is the top candidate to be the closer, but that job will be decided in spring training. Former Nationals RHP Greg Holland, who had a 0.84 ERA for in 22 appearances for Washington last season, could also be the closer. ... This could be the year that Arizona’s top pitching prospect, RHP Jon Duplantier, gets a chance in the big leagues.
COLORADO: The Rockies rotation is built around the arms of RHPs Kyle Freeland and German Marquez, each of whom set a team record for pitching last season. Freeland’s 2.85 ERA broke the team record ERA of 2.88 by RHP Ubaldo Jiménez. Marquez finished with 230 strikeouts in 2018, breaking RHP Pedro Astascio’s Rockies record of 210. ... LHP Tyler Anderson was either really good or really bad. Consider his ERAs in the final three months: 2.16 in July, 11.39 in August and 3.75 in September. ... RHP Antonio Senzatela has pitched out of the bullpen and rotation in the last two seasons, and while his stuff says he’s a better reliever, the Rockies keep using him as a part-time starter. ... The Rockies would love nothing more than bounceback seasons from two pitchers that used to lead their rotation: RHP Chad Bettis had a 5.01 ERA last season and RHP Jon Gray, so bad he was left off the postseason roster, was at 5.12. If Gray and Bettis are good, the Rockies rotation is loaded.
LOS ANGELES: The Dodgers, who have lost in the last two World Series, are led in the rotation by LHP Clayton Kershaw and RHP Walker Buehler. Kershaw, 31 in March, is one of the best when he is healthy. He had a 2.73 ERA last season, but he’s also been on the disabled list in each of the last three years because of back problems. ... A full season of Buehler, 24, will make the rotation better. He’s the kind of pitcher, with command and dominating stuff that makes him a potential No. 1 starter. Last season, he had 151 strikeouts and 37 walks in 137 1/3 innings. His ERA was 2.62. He should be able to approach 180-200 innings this season. ... The return of LHP Julio Urias, 22, is also a big story. He’s the pitcher that made the big leagues at 19, but then was sidelined after shoulder surgery. He pitched last September and had seven strikeouts in four innings of blowout games, and then made seven appearances for the Dodgers in the postseason. ... The rest of the rotation includes LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has also battled injuries but came back and posted a 1.81 ERA in 15 starts in 2018, and RHP Ross Stripling, a NL All-Star in 2018, who was miserable in the second half. ... RHP Kenta Maeda is a candidate for the rotation, but the Dodgers also like to use him out of the bullpen. ... The bullpen has closer Kenley Jansen, who had 38 saves last season, and a new setup guy in Kelly, who will team with RHP Caleb Ferguson to give the Dodgers a reliable bridge to their closer.
SAN DIEGO: The Padres rotation is wide open, but it is safe to say that the first two slots in the rotation will be Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi, lefties that made impressions as rookies in 2018. ... Lucchesi, the first pitcher from the 2016 draft to make the big leagues, had a 4.08 ERA in 130 innings last season, while Lauer made 23 starts going 112 innings. Lauer had a 1.33 ERA in his final four September starts. ... Lauer and Lucchesi are the first Padres pitchers to have at least 100 strikeouts in the same season since Bob Shirley and Bob Owchinko did it in 1977.
SAN FRANCISCO: The Giants rotation will likely be Bumgarner, Holland, Samardzija, RHP Dereck Rodríguez and LHP Andrew Suárez. ... There was speculation that Bumgarner, 29, making $12 million in his final year before free agency, would be traded, but he’s at the top of the rotation and the Giants are banking that his injuries are history. He has a 3.03 career ERA and was a key to the Giants’ three World Series titles, but he’s made only 17 and 21 starts in each of the last two seasons. ... Samardzija, 33, was limited to 10 starts last season and has battled shoulder injuries, but the Giants expect him to be ready for spring training. He had a 3.81 ERA in 2016 in his first year as a Giant, but he’s struggled since. ... Rodríguez, the son of Hall of Fame catcher Iván Rodríguez, had a 2.81 ERA in 118 1/3 innings last season. Suárez, 26, pitched well in the first half (3.94 ERA), but had his problems in the second half of 2018, when his ERA was 5.71. ... LHP Drew Pomeranz, who made 32 starts for Boston in 2017 but only 16 last season, will compete for a spot in the rotation, but he could end up in the bullpen. ... RHP Johnny Cueto, who pitched well early in 2018, had Tommy John surgery in August, so it is doubtful he’ll be back in 2019, given the recovery is 12-14 months. ... Former Nationals closer RHP Mark Melancon, 33, has two years and $28 million left on his contract. He’s been a huge bust for San Francisco. Last year, he pitched 41 innings and gave up 11.1 hits per nine innings. Opponents hit .302 against Melancon.