Pictured: Nolan Arenado
Source: Justin Edmonds / Getty Images North America

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks face the daunting task of replacing franchise icon and perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt as well as free agents Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock. Although many in the industry believed the Goldschmidt trade to St. Louis signaled an immediate tear-down, the D-backs held on to their other movable assets, including righthander Zack Greinke. They believe that a return to health from Jake Lamb and Steven Souza Jr. will help compensate for the loss of Goldschmidt, the only NL player to make each of the previous six All-Star rosters.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies won 91 games last season. They’re coming off consecutive appearances in the postseason for the first time in the team’s 26-year history. While they are clearly on the rise, the Rockies, swept by the Brewers in the Division Series last year, are looking to go deeper into October this year and very well might — if the offense improves.

They set franchise lows last year with their .256 average overall and .225 mark on the road. They had a .322 on-base percentage, the second lowest in franchise history, and a plus-35 run differential, the worst of any of the teams in the postseason. GM Jeff Bridich said the offseason priority was to improve the offense. To that end, the Rockies signed Daniel Murphy to a two-year, $24 million deal and will have him play first base. Murphy will add a veteran presence to both the lineup and clubhouse and has been very successful in the postseason. His arrival will free up versatile Ian Desmond to move from first base to, in all probability, center field, where he has ample experience. The lineup will revolve around third baseman Nolan Arenado and shortstop Trevor Story, who provide middle-of-the-lineup power and exceptional defense.

Young starters Kyle Freeland and German Marquez made huge strides last season and will anchor a rotation that should be more formidable if talented Jon Gray, who has power stuff, can be more consistent. The bullpen will be better if Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw rebound from poor seasons. Regardless, Scott Oberg and Seunghwan Oh, key parts of the relief corps last season, will help weather the loss of free agent Adam Ottavino.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have had a great run of success — and there is no sign of it ending soon. Despite suffering a World Series hangover that had them 10 games under .500 in mid-May and second in the National League West deep into September, they won their sixth consecutive division title, made their third consecutive NL Championship Series and second consecutive World Series. The 287 games they have won in Dave Roberts’ three years as manager are tied for the fourth most any manager has ever won in his first three seasons, and they have averaged 94 wins per season during this six-year run.

But it hasn’t been good enough.

Each of the past two seasons, baseball’s World Series champion has celebrated on the field at Dodger Stadium — and it hasn’t been the home team. In 2017, the Houston Astros beat the Dodgers in a seven-game series that could have gone either way. The Dodgers pledged to get back in 2018, vowing that it would be different this time. It was. The Boston Red Sox needed just five games to claim the crown.

The World Series drought in L.A. has now reached 30 years, and a fan base spoiled by the annual division titles and deep playoff runs will accept nothing less than a championship as a success.

San Diego Padres

They did it. The Padres made the big move that their fans have been clamoring for — they signed free agent Manny Machado to a staggering 10-year, $300 million dollar contract that gives the team a proven bat in the middle in the lineup and, more important, shows that the franchise is serious about fielding a winning team. The turnaround might not be immediate, but the arrival of Machado combined with a loaded farm system — headlined by top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. — puts the Padres in great shape to be relevant over the next decade.

San Francisco Giants

After two seasons of desperately trying to patch holes around an accomplished but aging core, the Giants are embracing a fresh perspective with new leadership. They lured away former Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi with a five-year contract and a club president title that gives him full authority over all roster decisions, as executive vice president Brian Sabean steps aside into an advisory role. Sabean and deposed GM Bobby Evans gave it one last shot in 2018 by acquiring Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, but injuries overwhelmed every area of the club, and the Giants were unable to build momentum. Now they are seeking a reboot, if not a full rebuild.

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4-homer finale caps Red Sox’s 4th title since ’04

LOS ANGELES — The Boston Red Sox dominated all season, played through pain when necessary and came through when it mattered most, making Chris Sale’s appearance Sunday for the final three outs of a championship the most fitting of final acts.

Sale, a starter who epitomized all of the Red Sox’s best traits, came out of the bullpen and struck out the Dodgers in order in the ninth inning of Game 5 in the World Series to give Boston its fourth World Series title since 2004 with a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Red Sox set up Sale’s final bow by first pounding the Dodgers into submission. World Series MVP Steve Pearce hit two home runs Sunday, while Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez each hit one. The victory was tidy, thorough and never in doubt, providing even more symbolism.

“Best feeling in my life,” said Pearce, who started the season with the Toronto Blue Jays and was dealt to Boston just before the non-waiver trade deadline. “This is what you grow up wishing, that you could be a part of something like this. With that special group of guys out there, to celebrate with them, that was awesome.”

Much as they did while rolling to a major-league-best 108 regular-season victories, the Red Sox also dominated the postseason. Boston lost just once in the World Series, and the Dodgers needed 18 innings and 7 hours, 20 minutes to take Game 3.

The Red Sox went 11-3 overall in the 2018 postseason and were an impressive 7-1 in road games while earning the ninth World Series championship in franchise history, tied for third most all-time with the Athletics franchise (Philadelphia, Kansas City, Oakland). Only the St. Louis Cardinals (11) and the New York Yankees (27) have more.

The Red Sox also became the third franchise to win a World Series in four consecutive appearances, along with the Cardinals and Yankees.

Boston starter David Price, who pounded his chest upon leaving the field after the seventh, went seven-plus innings, giving up a run on three hits and two walks. He struck out five.

Price won his third consecutive postseason start, two in this World Series alone, after not earning a victory in any of his previous 11 playoff starts.

“My confidence was never altered,” Price said. “I always had belief in myself and my abilities. To be able to come through on this stage and in October for myself and my teammates, I know I can do it now. And it’s always a good feeling to have. It’s just good to know.”

Joe Kelly struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth inning, and Sale did the same in the ninth, fanning Manny Machado to end it.

Pearce’s bat put a charge in the Red Sox for the second consecutive game when he hit a two-run home run to center field in the first inning off Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw. He went deep to left in the eighth inning off Pedro Baez. Pearce also hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning of Game 4 on Saturday as the Red Sox rallied for a 9-6 victory.

Betts, the likely American League MVP, was just 4-for-19 in the World Series heading into Game 5, but his sixth-inning home run off Kershaw gave Boston a 3-1 lead. Martinez added to that cushion with a home run off Kershaw to left-center in the seventh.

Kershaw, who now has the choice to opt out of his Dodgers contract, was left with yet another postseason disappointment. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has generally been dominating in the regular season, but he fell to 9-10 with a 4.32 ERA in 30 postseason appearances (24 starts).

“Disappointed … yeah, just disappointed,” said Kershaw, who expects to make a decision on his contract within the next three days. “There’s only one team that can win and we know that, but it just hurts worse when you make it all the way and get second place.”

Kershaw gave up four runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts Sunday, finishing this World Series with an 0-2 record and a 7.36 ERA. David Freese hit a leadoff home run in the first inning for the Dodgers, who finished with just three hits in Game 5.

Los Angeles lost in the World Series for the second year in a row, having dropped the 2017 Fall Classic to the Houston Astros in seven games.

“What (the Red Sox) did was well deserved,” said Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen, who gave up game-tying home runs in the eighth inning of both Games 3 and 4. “They are one of the best teams in history. How they played this year, that’s not a fluke that they won 108 games. We did our best, man. We gave all we got. It’s definitely disappointing, it definitely stinks, but you have to keep your head up, work out in the offseason and try to get better.”

The Red Sox not only went 7-0 in the postseason when facing a left-handed starter, but they were 10-0 when they scored the first run of the game.

Boston manager Alex Cora became just the fifth person to win the World Series in his first season as a major league skipper. Bob Brenly with the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, Ralph Houk with the 1961 Yankees, Eddie Dyer with the 1946 Cardinals and Bucky Harris with the 1924 Washington Senators also accomplished the feat.

“First of all, (the Red Sox) gave me a chance,” said Cora, who was on the coaching staff of last year’s champion Astros. “They saw me as a capable manager and they gave me a chance. It’s funny because when they announced (the hiring), we were flying to L.A. last year between the (AL) Championship Series and the World Series, and ironically enough, we win it here, so it goes full circle.”

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The Red Sox look to take the Series tonight in L.A. Can Kershaw and the Dodgers stay alive?

It sounded like a howitzer. The sound of cork and cowhide echoed off the lumber from Yasiel Puig’s bat as Dodger Stadium roared and shook like an aftershock. Puig’s bomb capped off a four-run sixth inning that felt insurmountable with Rich Hill carving up the Red Sox potent lineup. But then Mitch Moreland teed off Ryan Madson in the top of the seventh, a three-run laser that pulled the Red Sox within one. The next inning Steve Pearce took a Kenley Jensen pitch and hit a solo shot into the Chavez Ravine night sky that tied that game at four. The Red Sox would take the lead on a Rafael Devers RBI single in the ninth and put the game away on Pearce’s bases-clearing double four batters later, all part of a Boston five-run ninth inning.

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After dominating the first two games of the series, it seemed like Boston was on the brink of losing control in Game 4 after Puig’s home run. But the Red Sox did what they’ve done all year long, wear down pitching staffs and come up with timely hits, scoring all nine of their runs after the sixth inning.

The Dodgers were 54-0 when leading by four-runs this season, the only team in baseball to not blow such a lead— until last night. They are just the second team in the last 10 World Series to blow a four-run lead. The only other team? How about the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 against the Houston Astros? Baseball, you’re too cruel.

World Series Game 5: Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers
Time: Sunday, Oct. 28 at 8:15 p.m. ET

TV: FOX

Pitching Matchup: David Price vs. Clayton Kershaw

Three Things to Watch

1. Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher of his generation, and a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Fame player, and one of the greatest Dodgers of all-time. Those are all facts. Here is another fact — Kershaw has not been a very good pitcher in the postseason, and many of his starts have cost his team vital October victories. Fact.

Another fact is that Kershaw’s contract allows for him to opt out at the end of this season — which could be tonight if the Red Sox have their way. If Kershaw decides to walk, he will leave $70 million on the table in the final two years of his deal to play somewhere other than Dodger Stadium for the rest of his career. While I think it’s unlikely Kershaw ever leaves L.A., it is still a distinct possibility, and if he does leave, what will his legacy as a Dodger be?

Again, he has an inevitable date in Cooperstown five years to the minute after he hangs up his cleats, whenever that is. But does Kershaw become the Dan Marino of MLB or this generation’s Barry Bonds? One of the all-time greats to never win one?

That debate is typically a discussion that doesn’t allow for much nuance and the team’s those great players play for are hardly ever criticized as heavily. For Kershaw, the debate may be different. He has had so many opportunities to replicate his regular season dominance in the postseason, making 23 playoff starts in his career but posting a 4.29 ERA in those games, almost two full points higher than his career regular season ERA (2.39).

Tonight, Kershaw makes his 24th career postseason start, the fifth in the World Series, where his ERA balloons to 5.49. He’ll face a Red Sox team coming off the highest of highs from last night’s Game 4 comeback, looking to seal the deal. If Kershaw can deliver a typical regular season Kershaw-like start tonight, with his team facing elimination at home, he can at least re-write one chapter in a narrative that has plagued him for the last decade, whether he decides to stay in L.A. or not.

2. David Price

In a very surprising move, Sox manager Alex Cora has opted to throw lefty David Price in tonight’s Game 5. Price has already started once in this series, in Game 2, and was terrific, giving up just two earned runs in six innings, striking out five. His second straight quality start in the postseason after dominating the Astros in Game 5 of the ALCS.

Price, like Kershaw, has been historically below average in the playoffs compared to his typical all-star like regular seasons, with a career ERA of 4.87 in 22 postseason games (13 starts). But another solid outing tonight, especially on short rest, capped off with a World Series title, would re-write the storybook for Price’s career.

This isn’t the first time that Cora has deployed Price unconventionally in this series. Cora tabbed the lanky lefty to pitch two-thirds of the ninth inning as a reliever in the marathon that was Game 3. Price faced three batters and gave up a walk and a hit each.

While the move to pitch Price tonight is certainly going to raise a brow or two, Cora came into this series patching together his pitching staff and is running out of options. Rick Porcello is a no-go after starting Game 3. Nathan Eovaldi, who was likely to start Game 4, instead pitched six brilliant innings of relief during Game 3, leaving Cora with one option for last night’s Game 4, Eduardo Rodriguez.

The only alternative to Price is starting Chris Sale, who would be pitching on full rest. But the way Cora sees it, if the Red Sox can’t win it all tonight with Price and the bullpen, they still would hold a three-games-to-two lead as the series headed back to Boston for Game 6 and a possible Game 7. Sale would pitch Game 6 with two days of extra rest with the night off tonight and the travel day tomorrow. That is probably the best idea considering the noticeable velocity drop and lack of control that Sale has demonstrated the last month or so.

3. Dodgers’ Bullpen Woes

Dave Roberts needs a hug. Outside of Game 3 when he utilized eight different relief pitchers perfectly, every single pitching change he has made in this series has backfired — especially the choice to pitch Ryan Madson, like, at all.

Madson came into last night’s Game 4 having allowed all five of the runners he inherited in this series to score. So when Roberts called on the 38-year-old right-hander to face the left-handed Mitch Moreland with two-on and one out in the seventh, the collective “Oh, no” at Dodger Stadium was tangible through the TV. Madson started Moreland off with an 85MPH changeup up in the zone, and Moreland finished off Madson by knocking the snot out of that changeup — about 20 rows deep. Puig, playing right field, didn’t move. His gloved hand interlocked with the other behind his head said it all. Madson has now allowed all seven inherited runners to score.

But it gets worse for Roberts and the Dodgers bullpen. Kenley Jensen, the Dodgers closer who didn’t pitch in either of the first two games in Boston, has given up two game-tying solo home runs in the eighth inning of back-to-back games. L.A. cannot win this series unless Jensen is mowing down batters. Jensen simply has not been himself for good chunks of this season as he deals with heart complications. If Roberts doesn’t trust Jensen in the late innings tonight, look for him to go with Pedro Baez, who has been unhittable all postseason.

Final Analysis

The Dodgers gameplay is simple: Clayton Kershaw has to be great. Easy, right? Their bullpen is an overused, unreliable, mess running on fumes. Dodgers relievers surrendered all nine Red Sox runs in the final two innings last night. So how can Roberts trust any of them in high leverage situations when no one outside of Baez has proven they can deliver? Boston will be aggressive against Kershaw, hoping to drive him from the game in the early innings in order to feast on more of the Dodgers bullpen. Unless L.A. can flip the script and tag Price in the early goings, I like the Sox to win their ninth World Series title tonight in Tinseltown.

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Preview: Red Sox at Dodgers

The Boston Red Sox took the first two games of the World Series at home in impressive fashion and are hoping to ride the wave of momentum all the way across the country. The Red Sox will try to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven set when they visit the Los Angeles Dodgers for Game 3 on Friday.

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“We played two good games,” Boston manager Alex Cora told reporters. “(Wednesday’s 4-2 victory was) a tough one. They pitched well. We put some good at-bats. We pitched extremely well. David (Price) was amazing. And then the bullpen did what they’ve been doing during October and now we’re up 2-0.” Cora is using starting pitchers in the late innings to help bridge the gap to closer Craig Kimbrel and got a scoreless inning out of right-hander Nathan Eovaldi in each of the first two games, leaving right-hander Rick Porcello available to start Game 3 opposite Dodgers phenom Walker Buehler. Los Angeles’ hitters struck out a total of 20 times in the first two games and the bullpen failed to come through when it mattered. “We’ve got to find a way to win a baseball game,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters. “I think coming in here I thought we played these guys pretty straight up. Obviously, we come out of here going home down 2-0. But they made pitches when they needed to. And when we stressed them, they made the pitch. And then when it flipped, they got the hit, and we didn’t.”

TV: 8:09 p.m. ET, FOX

PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Rick Porcello (1-0, 4.22 ERA) vs. Dodgers RH Walker Buehler (0-1, 5.40)

Porcello was roughed up a bit in his American League Championship Series start at Houston on Oct. 17, surrendering four runs on seven hits – two homers – in four innings. The New Jersey native allowed one run in a total of 6 2/3 innings over his first three postseason appearances (one start). Porcello is 22-8 with a 4.11 ERA in 41 career interleague games and could end up being of help with the bat after going 3-for-7 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs during the regular season.

Buehler was knocked around a bit in his first two postseason starts but stepped up in Game 7 of the NLCS and struck out seven while allowing one run over 4 2/3 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. The 24-year-old Vanderbilt product held hitters to a .193 batting average during the regular season while striking out 151 in 137 1/3 innings. Buehler, who is facing Boston for the first time, posted a 1.93 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) at Dodger Stadium during the regular season.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Red Sox are 17-for-41 with 31 RBIs with runners in scoring position and two outs during the postseason.

2. Dodgers 1B/3B David Freese is 5-for-8 in his last three games.

3. The last team to come back from a 2-0 deficit to win the World Series was the 1996 New York Yankees.

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Preview: Dodgers at Red Sox

David Price recorded his first career playoff victory as a starting pitcher in his 12th attempt and now looks to make it two in a row when the Boston Red Sox host the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday for Game 2 of the World Series. The left-hander set aside his longstanding postseason struggles with six scoreless innings in the American League Championship Series-clinching win over Houston.

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Price, who will be trying to help Boston take a 2-0 series lead, was bombarded with questions and routinely ridiculed for his October issues and admitted Tuesday that he feels a lot less pressure now that he is 1-9 as a starter. “It’s definitely a weight lifted off of me, for sure,” Price said during his press conference. “Not like food tastes better or anything like that. But it was time. And I’m definitely glad that the time came and we moved past it. And I look forward to doing the same thing (Wednesday).” The Red Sox recorded an 8-4 win in Game 1 as Andrew Benintendi had four hits and Eduardo Nunez belted a pinch-hit, three-run homer, while Manny Machado drove in three runs for the Dodgers. “Our guys, like you’ve seen all year, are going to fight,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said in his postgame press conference. “And we don’t expect (the Red Sox) to give us anything. So we expect it to be a hard-fought series.”

TV: 8:09 p.m. ET, FOX

PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Hyun-Jin Ryu (1-1, 4.40 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH David Price (1-1, 5.11)

Ryu never has pitched in Fenway Park and took some time to study the playing field dimensions on Monday. “When I was in Korea, I only saw Fenway Park through TV, and same like here in the States,” the South Korean said through a translator during his press conference. “It took me this long to actually get here to the Fenway Park. And my initial reaction to the Green Monster is, it’s very tall. I don’t think there is going to be much difference between a left-handed pitcher and a right-handed pitcher because the dimension is still going to stay the same regardless.” The 31-year-old Ryu is 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA in six career postseason starts.

While Price is happy to have a winning start on his postseason resume, Red Sox manager Alex Cora insists the 33-year-old is going about his business in his typical fashion. “Nothing has changed,” Cora said during a press conference. “He talked about it, obviously, after the clincher, that he doesn’t have to answer questions, but he knows that his next start is a big start. (Wednesday) is going to be a big one. So we count on him.” Price is 3-9 with a 5.04 ERA in 20 career postseason appearances (12 starts), with the first two wins coming as a reliever.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Red Sox are 8-0 this postseason when scoring first.

2. Benintendi joined Wally Moses (Game 4, 1946) and Jacoby Ellsbury (Game 3, 2007) as the only Boston players with four hits in a World Series game.

3. Los Angeles DH Matt Kemp became the 36th player to homer in his first World Series at-bat.

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Preview: Dodgers at Red Sox

The Los Angeles Dodgers are back in the World Series for the second straight season and the Boston Red Sox won a franchise-record 108 games this year. The powerful teams begin pursuit of a championship when the Red Sox host the Dodgers on Tuesday in Game 1 of the Fall Classic at Fenway Park.

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Boston is searching for its fourth World Series crown in 15 years while the Dodgers are attempting to end a title drought that dates to 1988. Left-handers Chris Sale (Red Sox) and Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles) square off in the opener of the best-of-7 series in which Boston is viewed as favorites. “I like the underdog role,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said at Monday’s press conference. “I do know that everyone in our clubhouse doesn’t see it as icing on the cake. It’s been our goal since last year to win a World Series. So it’s a good club over there but we still like our guys, and it’s going to be a good one.” The Red Sox rolled through the defending World Series champion Houston Astros in five games in the American League Championship Series while Los Angeles prevailed in seven games over the Milwaukee Brewers on the National League side.

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TV: 8:09 p.m. ET, FOX

PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Clayton Kershaw (2-1, 2.37 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH Chris Sale (1-0, 3.48)

Kershaw will be pitching at Fenway Park for the first time during a stellar career that includes three NL Cy Young Awards. “I don’t really think about that stuff,” Kershaw said during a press conference. “I appreciate the history and everything that goes along with Fenway Park. … Check this one off as far as pitching (Tuesday), but I don’t really think about the history part of it too much, honestly.” The 30-year-old Kershaw has experienced mixed results in the postseason and stands 9-8 with a 4.09 ERA in 28 career appearances (22 starts).

Sale will be pitching for the first time in 10 days and said he is fully healthy now after his mysterious stomach ailment that led to him being hospitalized and missing a start in the ALCS. “There’s no holding back now, I think,” Sale said during a press conference while sidestepping questions about the stomach. “My job’s been the same since the first day I got here. You hand me the ball when you want me to throw it, and take it out of my hand when you want me to stop.” The 29-year-old Sale is 1-2 with a 5.85 ERA in five career postseason appearances (three starts).

WALK-OFFS

1. Two left-handers will again match up in Wednesday’s Game 2 as Roberts tabbed Hyun-Jin Ryu to start and Red Sox manager Alex Cora chose David Price.

2. RF Mookie Betts continues to work out at second base as Boston looks to get DH J.D. Martinez into the lineup in an outfield spot when the series moves to Dodger Stadium for Games 3-5.

3. Matt Kemp will serve as Los Angeles DH with the opener being in an AL ballpark.

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Imagining a perfect season for each team in the tank-free National League West

If, as Scott Boras suggested earlier this winter, baseball has indeed been corrupted by tanking, a practice he decried as “a non-competitive cancer,” then the National League West is … wait, what cures cancer?

In truth, it’s up for debate whether this glut of brazenly bad teams is actually a new phenomenon, or even all that harmful to the game, but what is clear is the five teams in the NL West – three of whom made the postseason in 2017 – did nothing to help this supposed cancer metastasize.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are going for it. Obviously. So, too, are the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, who squared off in last year’s NL wild-card game. As for the San Francisco Giants, who finished with the worst record in the majors in 2017, they were undeterred by that disaster, bringing in a couple past-prime superstars this offseason to ensure last year was an anomaly. Even the San Diego Padres, the division’s longtime whipping boys, aren’t punting anymore, having inked Eric Hosmer to an eight-year deal in February to start wrapping up their most recent rebuilding effort.

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You still have to squint pretty hard, of course, to see the Padres making the playoffs, and it’s not like Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria have cured all that ailed the Giants last summer. But in a climate now arguably too hospitable to those teams demonstrably disinclined to put a winner on the field, it’s refreshing to see a division sans any tank jobs. That isn’t to say all five teams will be good, because they won’t, but at least none of them are actively trying to be as un-good as possible. Find another division with five clubs that fit that description.

With their eyes on the prize, then, let’s take a look at what needs to happen for each NL West team to realize its perfect season, whatever that may be, starting with the reigning division champs (2018 projections and playoff odds courtesy of FanGraphs):

Los Angeles Dodgers

2017 RECORD PROJECTED 2018 RECORD PLAYOFF ODDS (%)
104-58 93-69 93.5%

 

A perfect 2018 season ends with … a World Series championship

For the Dodgers, divisional champs in each of the last five seasons and all but assured to repeat again this year, the 2017 campaign was perfect, really, until Game 7 of the World Series. They had, over the preceding months, authored their finest regular season since emigrating from Brooklyn, then bullied their way to the World Series, losing just one game through the first two rounds of the playoff. And yet they fell short of the Hollywood ending. They failed, Clayton Kershaw said, shouldering much of the blame himself. In truth, though, had Yu Darvish done a better job hiding the ball in Game 7, or had George Springer woken up with a sore back that morning, the Dodgers’ season would’ve ended with exaltation rather than heartbreak.

Having brought back almost every essential member of last year’s club, in order to realize their perfect season in 2018 by getting that World Series title and exorcising three decades worth of demons, the Dodgers don’t need to do anything different – just win the damn thing. And there’s a good chance that’ll happen if Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor even approximate last year’s huge numbers; if Alex Wood sustains the gains he made in 2017, when he was an All-Star for the first time; if Justin Turner returns to form once his fractured wrist has healed; and if Kershaw, the best pitcher of his generation, finally starts to act like himself in the postseason.

Arizona Diamondbacks

2017 RECORD PROJECTED 2018 RECORD PLAYOFF ODDS (%)
93-69 81-81 25.6%

 

A perfect 2018 season ends with … a division title

The Dodgers’ cushion atop the NL West seems insurmountable, but it’s salient to remember the Diamondbacks were a punchline this time last year following a 69-93 finish in 2016, a catastrophe of a season that effectively ended Dave Stewart’s career as an executive. Then, as we all know, they ended up silencing the haters, riding their exemplary rotation – comprised of Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Zack Godley, Patrick Corbin, and Taijuan Walker – to a 93-win season in which they actually underperformed against their expected record (per the Pythag theorem, a run differential-based record estimator, the Diamondbacks should’ve finished 96-66). Though they’re projected to take a step backward in 2018, the Diamondbacks will field that exact same rotation this season, meaning they’re probably going to be an elite run-prevention club again. There’s even room for improvement, too, seeing as they gave 17 starts last year to a cadre of scrubs who combined for a 5.67 ERA.

Again, dethroning the Dodgers won’t be easy, but considering how talented their staff is, the Diamondbacks will have a shot at their first NL West title since 2011 if A.J. Pollock, who struggled last year after missing almost all of 2016, resembles his former self (from 2014-15, he hit .311/.363/.498 with 9.8 WAR in 232 games, averaging 14 homers, 29 doubles, and 26 steals per season); if Jake Lamb, who owns a .843 OPS over the last two seasons, improves his ghastly .566 career OPS against left-handers; if Ketel Marte, who landed a five-year extension Monday, realizes the potential the club obviously sees in him; and if Jarrod Dyson can ably fill the outfield void created by the departure of J.D. Martinez.

Colorado Rockies

2017 RECORD PROJECTED 2018 RECORD PLAYOFF ODDS (%)
87-75 80-82 18.1%

 

A perfect 2018 season ends with … a division title

Much like the Diamondbacks, the Rockies snapped their playoff drought in 2018 on the strength of their pitching staff, which finished eighth in the majors (fourth in the NL) in WAR and seventh in park-adjusted ERA. Also like the Diamondbacks, the Rockies face the unenviable reality of having to compete with the Dodgers, and so spent considerably this winter to improve that already impressive staff, inking Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw while also re-signing Jake McGee for a combined $106 million to ensure run prevention, a notoriously difficult task in Colorado, doesn’t become problematic once more in 2018.

However, for the Rockies, who added only Chris Iannetta to a lineup that finished fourth-last in the majors in wRC+ (87) last year, a division title will only be possible if Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado, worth 12.1 WAR between them in 2017, continue to produce at close to MVP levels; if DJ LeMahieu, the NL batting champ two years ago, rectifies whatever caused him to produce below-league-average numbers in 2017; if Trevor Story, who lost almost 80 points of isolated power last season, reproduces the figures from his sensational 2016 rookie campaign; and if David Dahl and Ramiel Tapia deliver when the Rockies’ incumbent corner outfielders – Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra – ultimately disappoint.

San Francisco Giants

2017 RECORD PROJECTED 2018 RECORD PLAYOFF ODDS (%)
64-98 81-81 24.9%

 

A perfect 2018 season ends with … a wild-card berth

A week ago, it was difficult to envision the revamped Giants competing for the division. Now, with Madison Bumgarner possibly sidelined until June with a broken hand and Jeff Samardzija set to miss the first three-to-four weeks of the season with a strained pectoral muscle, it’s impossible.

That said, even with their rotation in disrepair and a bevy of good-but-not-great teams poised to compete for an NL wild-card spot, the Giants – who added big-name talent this winter to a team whose 2017 record belies the strength of its core players – can force their way into that one-game playoff if Longoria proves his sub-par 2017 (98 wRC+; 2.5 WAR) was merely a blip, and McCutchen, who managed 3.7 WAR last year following a disastrous 2016 campaign, more closely imitates his younger self in his final season before free agency; if Brandon Belt, plagued by concussion problems in 2017, logs a full season; if Mark Melancon, who flopped in his first year with San Francisco, vindicates the club’s decision to give him a four-year, $62-million deal last winter; if Hunter Pence dispels the increasingly popular notion that he can’t play at a high level for a full season anymore; and if their interim starters, tasked with keeping Bumgarner and Samardzija’s rotation spots warm, don’t completely suck.

San Diego Padres

2017 RECORD PROJECTED 2018 RECORD PLAYOFF ODDS (%)
71-91 73-89 2.7%

 

A perfect 2018 season ends with … a wild-card berth

When you get down to do it, the real impetus for the second wild-card is the suspension of disbelief – more easily monetized, after all, than the death of hope and faith – and no team better exemplifies this reality than the refurbished Padres, whose competitive window isn’t really open yet but has just enough room for a breeze of hope to whisper through. With Fernando Tatis Jr., MacKenzie Gore, Cal Quantrill, and Luis Urias still toiling away in the minors, most of the centerpieces of their rebuild have yet to ripen, all due respect to Manuel Margot and Carlos Asuaje. But the Padres’ decision to commit $144 million to Hosmer – who will be their second-oldest everyday position player this year – suggests they don’t think they’re that far off.

And while nobody in their right mind expects them to make the playoffs, suspend your disbelief and consider the possibility it could happen if Hosmer, as volatile as they come, manages a second excellent season in a row – he hit .318 with a 135 wRC+ and 4.1 WAR in 2017 – for the first time in his career; if Wil Myers, heading into the second season of an $83-million extension, finds the value he lost last year both at the plate and in the field; if Austin Hedges, owning a career .596 OPS, dispels his deserved reputation as a catch-and-throw guy; if Margot, who managed 1.9 WAR as a rookie in 2017, takes another significant step forward; if Chase Headley, who turns 34 in May, rediscovers the stroke that made him an All-Star and MVP candidate during his previous stint in San Diego; and if their entire rotation, now down Dinelson Lamet for at least the first month of the season, dramatically exceeds expectations.

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Posted in MLB

MLB Trade Deadline

Check out the latest news in MLB trade deadline… and join fantasy baseball at fanpicks.com (click to play).

Latest rumors!

Baseball teas are looking to complete their shopping before the cut off transaction time of 4PM ET. Los of players are in the middle of rumors, and it all starts with the big catch of All-Star Chris Sale. The ace has apparently been linked to the Boston Red Sox beginning Sunday night. Other sources believes that there will be likely less than 5% chance of Sale being traded before the deadline. While those two possibilities are the most probable scenarios, other teams interested in the White Sox pitcher would be the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Texas Rangers. Sale presents a record of 14 wins and 4 losses in 20 starts since the beginning of the campaign, with a 3,17 earned run average.

There could also be some major additions to the Mariners roster before the deadline. They look to put their hands on Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart. He has 15 homers and 41 runs batted in this season.

Done Deals!

The New York Mets added some punch in their outfield with the acquisition of Jay Bruce from the Cincinnati Reds on Monday. The transaction should be concluded pending physical, which has been reported has hit some issues. If the deal goes through, the Reds would receive outfielder Brandon Nimmo and two prospects in return. 29 years-old, Bruce presents a batting average of ,265. He crushed 25 long balls and has 80 RBI’s since the beginning of the season. The new Mets was a highly coveted trade target during the last few days. The Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers were all in the running for the sluggers services.

The Los Angeles Dodgers made the acquisitions of outfielder Josh Reddick and lef-handed pitcher Rich Hill from the Oakland Athletics in return for a trio of promising right-handed pitchers (Jharel Cotton, Grant Holmes and Frankie Montas). Hill signed a 6 million dollar contract for one season with the A’s during the off-season and his currently injured due to blisters on his left hand. The 36 years-old has a record of 9-3 with a 2,25 ERA in 14 starts this season. As for Reddick, the 29 years-old post an average of ,296 with 8 home runs and 28 RBI’s in 68 games this year.

Posted in MLB

MLB Fantasy Baseball Preview

San Francisco Giants vs Los Angeles Dodgers

 

The San Francisco Giants made a few big offseason moves signing 3 free agents. This Sunday, Jeff Samardzija, the pitcher who signed a $90 million 5 year contract in December takes the mound for the Giants to finish off their 3 game series against Los Angeles Dodgers in the rubber match of the three-game series. This MLB Fantasy Baseball Preview of this game is brought you by FanPicks. Come play in our MLB Fantasy contests where you can win up to a $1 million this week at FanPicks.

 

MLB Fantasy Baseball
The Giants’ other 2 big additions pitched yesterday to help their 3 game losing streak. Their center fielder Denard Span wast 1 of 4 and Johnny Cueto put in some work in the 8th inning in the 4-3 victory. Their reliever Sergio Romo is injured and won’t be available for the next several weeks while the Giants GM splits the current setup between Hunter Strickland and Josh Osich. L.A managed only 5 hits during Saturday’s loss. Adrian Gonzalez will be a solid source of power for the future.

 

Samardzija got his 1st win as a Giants on Tuesday when he allowed 2 over 8 innings in a 7-2 win against the Rockies. Chase Utley is 6 for 15 with an HR against the 2014 NL All-Star. He has a 1-2 record with a 4.91 ERA in 4 games against the Dodgers.

 

Maeda turned in his 2nd strong outing Tuesday by holding Arizona scoreless in 6 innings of play with only allowing 5 hits and striking out 4. Maeda still holds the longest streak in Dodgers’ history to begin a career with his 12 consecutive scoreless innings is the 4th longest in history to begin a career.

 

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Posted in MLB

MLB Daily Fantasy Draft Giants vs Dodgers

Dominate your competition with our MLB Daily Fantasy Draft, create the winning lineup at Fanpicks.com. Nothing like getting thrown into the fire, as Ross Stripling will find out tonight, when he makes his Major League debut pitching for the Dodgers versus their archrival Giants at inhospitable AT&T Park.

Stripling, who has never pitched above Double-A, said he’s been studying Giants hitters since he learned last weekend that he gets first crack at holding the fifth starter job. He went 1 and 1 with a 4.09 ERA in four Spring Training games.  The 26 year-old was chosen over Carlos Frias and Zach Lee to complete the rotation the opening day rotation. Both Frias and Lee already started for the team over the course of the previous season, so it may seems suprising to go with the rookie who is coming off Tommy Johns surgery.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy indicated that catcher Buster Posey is likely to get his first day off this season. Rookie Trevor Brown would start in his place. Posey was initially expected to rest in Wednesday’s series finale at Milwaukee, but played instead. The Giants would need Posey’s bat this Saturday, when they face Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and are scheduled to counter with their own No. 1 pitcher, Madison Bumgarner, to the hill. Posey usually takes a break from catching about 40 games per season, but usually does not miss Bumgarner’s starts. Matt Cain, who will starts for San Francisco, is 5-11 with a 3.49 ERA in 30 career outings against the Dodgers. Spring training hasn’t been too good for him though, as he recorded an ERA of  7.71 in three starts.

Top Fantasy Picks

2B Joe Panik (SF)

3B Justin Turner (LAD)

OF Yasiel Puig (LAD)

Posted in MLB

Fantasy Baseball NLDS update – New York Mets vs Los Angeles Dodgers

It’s the MLB playoffs and cash draft contests are under way. The fantasy baseball matchup between the Mets and the Dodgers is tied 1 game apiece. It all started on Friday, with Jacob de Grom outdueling ace Clayton Kershaw and establishing a new franchise strikeouts record with 13 K’s. Los Angeles came back to even the series with a late inning comeback during the second game. Both team faced each other seven times during the regular season. New York ended up winning four of those games to take the season series. Here are the matchups:

Potential Pitching Matchup:

Schedule New York Mets Los Angeles Dodgers
October 9

at Dodger Stadium

Final Score: 3-1 Mets

RHP Jacob de Grom

Post-season (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

 

LHP Clayton Kershaw

Post-season (0-1, 4.05 ERA)

October 10

at Dodger Stadium

Final Score: 5-2 Dodgers

RHP Noah Syndergaard

Post-season (0-1, 4.26 ERA)

RHP Zack Greinke

Post-season (1-0 , 2.57 ERA)

October 12 8:30 PM ET

at Citi Field

RHP Matt Harvey*

Season (13-8, 2.71 ERA)

Vs Dodgers this season (1-1, 3.75 ERA)

LHP Brett Anderson*

Season (10-9, 3.69 ERA)

October 13  8:00 PM ET

at Citi Field

 

LHP Steven Matz

Season (4-0, 2.27 ERA)

Vs Dodgers this season (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

LHP Alex Wood

Season (12-12, 3.84 ERA)

October 15 8:00 PM ET

at Dodger Stadium

RHP Jacob de Grom

Vs Dodgers this season (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

LHP Clayton Kershaw

Vs Mets this season (1-0, 0.56 ERA)

(*)Confirmed

Series Fantasy Value Picks:

P Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers

Kershaw let the first game slide to the Mets. It`s doubtful he will repeat this failure a second time around, if he gets to pitch in this series again.

P Steven Matz – New York Mets

Matz has been impressive in his first year in the big league. The sensational rookie could be the game changer in the fourth game of the series.

1B Adrian Gonzalez – Los Angeles Dodgers

Gonzalez is a home run threat every time he shows up at the plate.

SS Wilmer Flores – New York Mets

Flores made his case this year to earn the Mets starting shortstop gig.

OF Michael Conforto – New York Mets

Conforto made his MLB debut against the Los Angeles and even had a 4-for-4 in a 15-2 win over the Dodgers back on July 25th. The rookie has potential to be a Dodger nightmare.

 

Posted in MLB

Fantasy Baseball Best Picks of the Day – September 29th 2015

There are sparks flying everywhere in the MLB, as we inch closer to post-season’s daily fantasy sports contests. Tension is in the air in California. Both San Francisco and Los Angeles are vying for the N.L. west top spot. They will play their 2nd game of a 4 games series. Giants are sending their ace Madison Bumgarner to the mound, but the Dodgers respond with their own all-star, Clayton Kershaw. A win for the Dodgers allows them to clinch a playoff entry. Also on the bracket is the N.L. central division matchup between St-Louis and Pittsburgh. The Cards will try to claim the title for the third straight year with a win over the Pirates today. Can you feel the heat, because these are the fantasy hot picks:

P Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants

Season: 18 W, 8 L, 2.88 ERA, 228 Ks, 38 BBs

Bumgarner won against Kershaw twice this season. After losing his last two starts, he’ll look for redemption and the chance to keep his team’s playoff hopes alive. The lefty will also pitch at home where he holds a 1.80 ERA. A crowd cheering for him is all the motivation he’s going to need to win.

C Carlos Perez – Los Angeles Angels

Season:  .248 AVG, 3 HRs, 18 RBIs, 16 Runs, 2 SBs

The L.A. Angels are in the middle of a battle with the Houston Astros for top spot in the A.L. west. They need contribution from all their players. Perez has been doing his part, hitting .444 in his last 8 games.

1B Adam Lind – Milwaukee Brewers

Season: .284 AVG, 20 HRs, 86 RBIs, 70 Runs

The Brewers will introduce minor league pitcher of the year Jorge Lopez to the MLB. Given that he’s the future hope of a struggling Milwaukee team, the squad will need to step up their game. Adam Lind is having a pretty good season. The 32 years-old also has Tyson Ross number. He’s batting a career .833 with 1 home run and 3 RBI’s in 6 at-bats against the righty.

2B Andres Blanco – Philadelphia Phillies

Season: .287 AVG, 6 HRs, 23 RBIs, 29 Runs

He has shown that you don’t need to be in a bad team to perform well. The Venezuelan had a game winning homer on Sunday against the Nats. It came the inning after an altercation in the Washington dugout between Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon. Blanco knows how to take up on opportunities when they presents themselves.

3B David Freese – Los Angeles Angels

Season: .257 AVG, 13 HRs, 53 RBIs, 49 Runs, 1 SB

Freese had back-to back dingers over the weekend. It shows that from top to bottom of the Angels lineup, everybody is contributing for the playoff push. The 2011 World Series MVP knows how to win when it matter.

SS Alexei Ramirez – Chicago White Sox

Season: .249 AVG, 10 HRs, 60 RBIs, 54 Runs, 17 SBs

He was not in the lineup for Sunday’s matchup against the Yankees. This gave him a two day rest before his team meets up with the Royals in a three game home stand. He will face Johnny Cueto today, and that is no problem for him. The Cuban is averaging .750 with 1 home run in 8 at-bats against Cueto.

OF Carlos Beltran – New York Yankees

Season: .275 AVG, 18 HRs, 63 RBIs, 53 Runs

The Yankees are facing their eternal rivals Red Sox. The Yankees lost the first one. They will need to rebound so that they can get closer to a post-season entry. If all goes well today, Beltran should have plenty of fantasy points at cleanup.

OF Charlie Blackmon – Colorado Rockies

Season: .290 AVG, 17 HRs, 56 RBIs, 90 Runs, 41 SBs

The man with the beard just closed out a terrific series against the Dodgers. He had 4 hits including a triple and a home run, while scoring one run or more in every game. Now, it’s time for him to show what he can do against the Diamondbacks.

OF A. J. Pollock – Arizona Diamondbacks

Season: .317 AVG, 19 HRs, 75 RBIs, 106 Runs, 37 SBs

Pollock is having a tremendous season for the D-Backs. He will have no problem elevating those numbers today, as he faces off against Colorado’s Christian Bergman. He has 4 hits in 7 at-bats against him.

Fantasy Baseball Picks Recap

 P Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants

C Carlos Perez – Los Angeles Angels

1B Adam Lind – Milwaukee Brewers

2B Andres Blanco – Philadelphia Phillies

3B David Freese – Los Angeles Angels

SS Alexei Ramirez – Chicago White Sox

OF Carlos Beltran – New York Yankees

OF Charlie Blackmon – Colorado Rockies

OF A.J. Pollock – Arizona Diamonbacks

Posted in MLB

Fantasy Baseball Best Picks of the Day – September 24th 2015

It was a sad day for all fantasy baseball fans yesterday, as one of the all-time greats in Major League Baseball passed away.  Yogi Berra was one of the best clutch hitters the world has ever seen. He leaves behind a great legacy and he will never be forgotten. The Yankees are back at home today and they will face the Chicago White Sox. It will be a special game in the mind of everyone. A pre-game moment of silence should be expected to remember Berra. With that in mind, let’s get to today’s hot fantasy picks:

P Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers

Season: 14 W, 7 L, 2.18 ERA, 272 Ks, 40 BBs

With a potential Cy-Young season on his hands, it’s hard to believe he could ever fail. He received his first loss since June 27 in his last outing. He will be looking for redemption against a D-Backs team that has roughed him up a little in their last meeting. And this time, it’s in Kershaw’s home-turf. You don’t mess with Kershaw twice in a row.

C A.J. Ellis – Los Angeles Dodgers

Season:  .230 AVG, 6 HRs, 17 RBIs, 20 Runs

Ellis has been sharing catching duties with Yasmani Grandal all-season long. Grandall faced the righties and Ellis, the lefties. Well today is Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin. Last time the two met, Ellis had three fly out against Corbin, until he belted one over the fence against substitute Keith Hessler. If he hits those ball high, you never know what might happen.

1B Prince Fielder – Texas Rangers

Season: .304 AVG, 21 HRs, 84 RBIs, 73 Runs

Oakland A’s pitcher has been rehabbing a sore right shoulder in the past few weeks. He will make his first start since August 26. Prince Fielder hope to take advantage of this and get back on the right track. He was hitless in 5 games before getting a single last night.

2B Howie Kendrick – Los Angeles Dodgers

Season: .291 AVG, 9 HRs, 50 RBIs, 58 Runs, 6 SBs

He will be inserted into his usual cleanup spot when facing lefties. That his good especially when you play for Clayton Kershaw.

3B Miguel Rojas – Miami Marlins

Season: .265 AVG, 1 HR, 12 RBIs, 10 Runs

He is on a tear, and it will continue against underperforming rookie Alec Asher.

SS Brandon Crawford – San Francisco Giants

Season: .256 AVG, 19 HRs, 80 RBIs, 58 Runs, 5 SBs

Crawford will have plenty of fun tonight against Ian Kennedy, who has been struggling in the month of September.

OF Bryce Harper – Washington Nationals

Season: .341 AVG, 41 HRs, 95 RBIs, 116 Runs, 6 SBs

Did somebody say MVP? He’s having his best stretch of the season. With the Nats seeing their playoffs hope shrink a little more every day, it’s the time for the team to push hard. There is no other player who will push harder than Harper.

OF Melky Cabrera – Chicago White Sox

Season: .277 AVG, 12 HRs, 78 RBIs, 68 Runs, 3 SBs

Leave it to Cabrera to unfortunately spoil the return of the Yankees at home, the day after Yogi Bera’s passing. He is just having too good of a hot streak to pass on.

OF Ichiro Suzuki – Miami Marlins

Season: .238 AVG, 1 HR, 20 RBIs, 45 Runs, 11 SBs

Ichiro was out of the Marlins lineup in the last two games. A return to form against Phillies starter Alec Asher should be good for him.

Fantasy Baseball Picks Recap

 P Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers

C A.J. Ellis – Los Angeles Dodgers

1B Prince Fielder – Texas Rangers

2B Howie Kendrick – Los Angeles Dodgers

3B Miguel Rojas – Miami Marlins

SS Brandon Crawford – San Francisco Giants

OF Bryce Harper – Washington Nationals

OF Melky Cabrera – Chicago White Sox

OF Ichiro Suzuki – Miami Marlins

Posted in MLB