Mound Musings: A Look at Pitching in the NL West

Mound Musings: A Look at Pitching in the NL West

This article is part of our Mound Musings series.

With all players reporting, baseball season is finally upon us, and real baseball is only about six weeks away. Don't worry, we'll be ready. It will be interesting to see the impact of the offseason rule changes. As in the past, I'll cover one division each week, and hopefully we'll have a value-laden pitching staff heading into the 2023 season. Things will surely change as Spring Training progresses, but we handle those on the fly. Remember, the Musings are intended to be interactive. Ask questions and share your opinions. That's what we're here for. Let's get to it and look at the:

National League West

Arizona Diamondbacks – The Diamondbacks are in a state of transition and probably don't have the horses to hang with their loaded division rivals. The biggest "name" in the rotation is Madison Bumgarner, but health issues (and probably advancing age to some extent) have sapped his productivity. That leaves the first couple spots in the rotation to Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. Kelly may technically be their No. 1, but in fantasy terms I have him slightly behind Gallen, who is really making a positive statement. The rest of the mound corps behind the top two and Bumgarner is pretty nondescript. Zach Davies should have a spot, but he's never really excited me, albeit the soft-tosser has enjoyed some success at times. The final rotation spot actually looks interesting. Ryne Nelson and Drey Jameson both provided some teaser innings last season, but I'm

With all players reporting, baseball season is finally upon us, and real baseball is only about six weeks away. Don't worry, we'll be ready. It will be interesting to see the impact of the offseason rule changes. As in the past, I'll cover one division each week, and hopefully we'll have a value-laden pitching staff heading into the 2023 season. Things will surely change as Spring Training progresses, but we handle those on the fly. Remember, the Musings are intended to be interactive. Ask questions and share your opinions. That's what we're here for. Let's get to it and look at the:

National League West

Arizona Diamondbacks – The Diamondbacks are in a state of transition and probably don't have the horses to hang with their loaded division rivals. The biggest "name" in the rotation is Madison Bumgarner, but health issues (and probably advancing age to some extent) have sapped his productivity. That leaves the first couple spots in the rotation to Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. Kelly may technically be their No. 1, but in fantasy terms I have him slightly behind Gallen, who is really making a positive statement. The rest of the mound corps behind the top two and Bumgarner is pretty nondescript. Zach Davies should have a spot, but he's never really excited me, albeit the soft-tosser has enjoyed some success at times. The final rotation spot actually looks interesting. Ryne Nelson and Drey Jameson both provided some teaser innings last season, but I'm not completely convinced they can add a lot to those innings. Maybe. Another to consider would be Tommy Henry, but I would be more likely to move past him and look at the organization's top pitching prospect, Brandon Pfaadt. In short, there just isn't a lot to get excited about in their rotation options beyond the top two.

I haven't seen much yet, but any day now we should be reading about Mark Melancon being done. He doesn't possess the arsenal he sported earlier in his career, but he still knows how to get hitters out, and my guess is he will again see closing duties. Righties Kevin Ginkel and Miguel Castro will see work in the later innings, along with southpaws Andrew Chafin and Joe Mantiply. All could even be considered dark horse candidates for save chances, but none of them screams closer-in-waiting.

Recapping the Diamondbacks:

The arm to roster: Gallen could take another step forward, but be careful not to overpay.

He'll likely be overpriced: I love Bumgarner but he needs to show there is something left.

Best of the bullpen: Slight edge to Melancon based on his refusal to surrender his role.

Colorado Rockies – This is pretty much a carbon copy of the Colorado pitching staff. Coors Field is still Coors Field, and pitchers who spend half their time there are still fantasy risks. There is some quality, but overcoming the risk is always a challenge. German Marquez might be the closest they have. He possibly has the stuff to get it done anywhere, but ideally fantasy owners can pick and choose when to have him in the lineup. Kyle Freeland is different. He doesn't have the big arm of Marquez, but I do like his mound presence. Not surprisingly, following a jaw-dropping 2018, he has failed to replicate those peripherals, but I still think he could be a bit better than he has been recently. After the top two, the options for the last few spots are huge fantasy risks. I suppose Antonio Senzatela deserves some attention, but he's nursing a knee injury and is capable of melting down any time. I do think Jose Urena is better than his numbers suggest and will likely take a regular turn, but he can get very hittable if he gets behind in counts. And, Austin Gomber and Ryan Feltner appear to be the best bets for the fifth spot. Neither will help your fantasy pitching staff. If you're looking for a lightning strike, could Dinelson Lamet come anywhere near his promise?

The Rockies tried investing heavily in their bullpen over the past few years. It has been a disaster. Those guys are pretty much gone, but the pen still appears to be a weakness. The exception might the ninth inning where Daniel Bard,somehow continues to do his closer thing. They actually do have some potential depth beyond Bard including former Padres' standout Pierce Johnson. And, don't forget about Lamet who has closer stuff when he's healthy and in sync. Right now he is projected to pitch out of the pen.

Recapping the Rockies:

The arm to roster: If I have to own one it would probably be Freeland.

He'll likely be overpriced: Senzatela gets more draft day attention than he should.

Best of the bullpen: The 37-year-old Bard just keeps getting it done.

Los Angeles Dodgers – In all my years evaluating pitchers, I don't believe I have ever seen an organization consistently field a rotation quite as loaded. The rich are clearly getting richer. Where to start? Clayton Kershaw is getting older and he has dealt with some nagging injuries, but he has successfully made the transition from young, big arm, to still having a pretty big arm, to an even more wily veteran. He remains at the top of their rotation, albeit he should be sharing the spot with two other certified stars. First is Walker Buehler who underwent Tommy John surgery last August. Let's put it this way. He has the stuff, and he has the mound presence. And, we haven't seen his best yet. If I were to compile a five-man dream fantasy rotation for the next several years, Buehler would be on it, but we won't see much of him in 2023. Injuries slowed the progress of Julio Urias early on, but he's established himself, although he doesn't get the hype he deserves. He would easily be a one on many staffs. They signed Noah Syndergaard over the offseason. An ace before arm injuries, he hasn't been the old Thor of late, but he might return to that form at some point. Yikes! The incredibly deep Dodgers' mound corps affords them the luxury of using Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin at the back of their rotation, and even Ryan Pepiot is a competent option.

For the first time in years, Kenley Jansen isn't the name at the end of the bullpen bench. The Dodgers have plenty of support and insurance on hand, but the endgame gig is still in question. Injuries are a big factor. Experienced closer Blake Treinen will miss at least the first half. They also added another arm with some closing experience in J.P. Feyereisen and big arm Alex Reyes, but they will both be unavailable early on. I think Evan Phillips should again fill a key set-up role (and might get into the saves mix) but I'm picking Daniel Hudson and one other name to watch, Brusdar Graterol. He has an electric arm and is probably the guy the Dodgers would like to see closing games.

Recapping the Dodgers:

The arm to roster: Urias may again be the biggest bargain, and Thor is a super sleeper.

He'll likely be overpriced: Kershaw's career could be inflating his price tag.

Best of the bullpen: Hudson, at least early on, but keep tabs on Graterol.

San Diego Padres –The Padres are always a joy to analyze. They are always active, bringing in new faces, and with their developmental organization and PETCO Park, you have to take a close look. Looking at a rapidly evolving rotation, first up is the recently signed Yu Darvish. He has everything in sync now, and with an exciting young team behind him plus pitching his home games in pitcher-friendly park, Darvish is, in my eyes, a front-runner for the NL Cy Young. Then you have Joe Musgrove. He put it all together when he came over from Pittsburgh in 2021, and while I think he's at or near his ceiling, he fits nicely as a No. 2. Next up is Blake Snell who just can't seem to stay locked in. When he's in sync, he is a threat to Darvish for postseason awards. So, that's the good news. And, we have the recently signed Michael Wacha moving into the four spot. Is he the next new friar to turn into a star? Mark me skeptical, but we can't rule it out. The fifth spot likely involves a choice between two quality relievers. Nick Martinez is my lukewarm favorite for the job, while Seth Lugo also looms as a possibility. Both would be better served working out of the bullpen. There are a couple wildcards. Cole Hamels is 39-years-old, so regaining his career form is pretty iffy, and they signed Brent Honeywell to a minor-league deal. Once a rising star, he has never overcome chronic elbow issues.

The Padres acquired Josh Hader as they worked on assembling a very competent bullpen. He went through a frustrating stretch, but I'm giving him a mulligan. Add southpaw Drew Pomeranz who is reportedly healthy, and righty Robert Suarez who could also see some ninth-inning work as Hader's caddy. Additionally, Tim Hill, Craig Stammen and Luis Garcia will jointly form a solid bridge to the late innings. That's a deep and talented bullpen.

Recapping the Padres:

The arm to roster: Darvish is an ace and I see him taking it to another level.

He'll likely be overpriced: Wacha isn't bad, but his value could be inflated.

Best of the bullpen: Despite the 2022 hiccup, Hader is a legitimate bullpen star.

San Francisco Giants – San Francisco seems to be a frequent landing place for pitchers who intrigue me. That's not necessarily an endorsement, but it does make assessment more interesting. The Giants pitching staff took a huge hit with the loss of Carlos Rodon, but there are still a few potential gems. Logan Webb assumes leadership of the staff and he is solid enough. However, I feel like he may have reached his ceiling. I have always liked Sean Manaea. When he's healthy and on his game he's a handful, but at age 31, I feel like he should have developed more consistency. Now we come to Alex Cobb. He signed with the Giants after a fairly respectable 2021 campaign.  He was competent in 2022, but unless the new pitches he is reportedly working on make a big difference, he's no better than average. The rest of the probable starters, Ross Stripling, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood and maybe even Jakob Junis are all in the hunt for a starting berth, they all have some small potential for upside, and they all have one other thing in common – they probably won't help a fantasy team unless they pop a career year. If I had to take one, it would probably be Stripling or DeSclafani, who can be fantasy relevant when at their best. That's a deep rotation, but if you're looking for a sleeper, keep an eye on towering Sean Hjelle. He better than his numbers suggest.

The bullpen might offer more question marks than that deep rotation. The most logical closer is Camilo Doval, who has electric stuff, but he has displayed command issues. After Doval, things really get cloudy with a chance of meatballs. Maybe they will look at one of the twin brothers Taylor Rogers or Tyler Rogers? They might be twins but there isn't much similarity on the mound. Taylor is a southpaw and a competent closer, while Tyler is a right-handed submariner with an 82-mph fastball. I don't see Tyler being in the saves mix. Maybe John Brebbia or Scott Alexander will get a look, but they, like Tyler, are better suited to set-up roles.

Recapping the Giants:

The arm to roster: Tough call, and he's loaded with risk, but I'll try Manaea.

He'll likely be overpriced: Cobb teases at times but still needs to find stability.

Best of the bullpen: Doval with his hot stuff, I guess, but he needs better command.

Next week we'll continue our pitching staff previews with a look at the AL Central.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brad Johnson
For more than 30 years, pitching guru Brad "Bogfella" Johnson has provided insightful evaluation and analysis of pitchers to a wide variety of fantasy baseball websites, webcasts and radio broadcasts. He joined RotoWire in 2011 with his popular Bogfella's Notebook.
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