The battle for NL West Supremacy starts tonight as the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers travel to Denver to battle the first place Colorado Rockies.  Both these teams are coming off huge series wins after the Rockies took advantage of an underachieving Cubs team and the Dodgers swept a Pirates team that looks more like potential sellers at the deadline with each disappointing loss.  The Dodgers and Rockies lineups are both having great offensive seasons, but this series really comes down to some outstanding pitching match-ups over the next four days.

Although the Dodgers were thrilled with their recent sweep of the Pirates, it unfortunately did come at a steep price.  Outfielder Andrew Toles tore his ACL while attempting to catch a fly ball that would have preserved the current ho-hitter starting pitcher Julio Urias was in the midst of.  Toles will miss the remainder of the season, but the silver lining is current rookie of the year favorite Cody Bellinger is likely to stay with the club for the remainder of the year since he is currently the best hitting outfielder on the LA roster and injuries are starting to pile of for the Dodgers.  Speaking of no-hitters, the Colorado Rockies pitcher German Marquez had a no-hitter going against the Cubs in the series finale yesterday until Kris Bryant was able to end it with a double in the 7th inning.  Both the Dodgers and Rockies had success against two different underwhelming NL Central teams this week, but tonight starts a four game series which will either keep Colorado atop the NL West, or see a power shift with the Dodgers taking over first place in the division.

The Match-ups and likely starters look like this for the series:


Hyun-Jin Ryu, LA (LHP, 1-4, 4.04 ERA) vs Tyler Anderson, COL (LHP, 2-3, 6.69 ERA)

Thursday’s game might be the most important of the series since it could set the tone for the rest of the weekend.  Ryu last pitched for LA on 4/30 when he struck-out nine Philadelphia batters and recorded the win before heading to the DL.  Anderson is looking for his second win in a row after a tough start to the season that saw his ERA shoot up to 8.59 at one point, but his last outing saw him strikeout 10 Diamondbacks batters on 5/6.  Each team will be looking to get the W in tonight’s contest and likely are pleased it’s two “question mark” pitchers that’ll face off in the series opener.


Clayton Kershaw, LA (LHP, 5-2, 2.40 ERA) vs Tyler Chatwood, COL (RHP, 3-4, 4.74 ERA)

Clayton Kershaw is 1-1 vs Colorado this season with a combined 16 strikeouts, while giving up 13 hits between the two contests.  Chatwood has seen his numbers get better this season after 7 starts and has yet to face LA this season but only has 1 actual win against a team over .500 this season, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does against a Dodgers lineup that is currently putting up more runs than any team in MLB.  If Kershaw can dominate and get run support from the LA lineup, the odds heavily favor the Dodgers in game 2.


Alex Wood, LA (LHP, 3-0, 2.73 ERA) vs Kyle Freeland, COL (LHP, 3-2, 2.93 ERA)

Alex Wood vs Kyle Freeland could be the highlight match-up of this series since both players are off to fantastic starts this season.  Wood looks like he finally reaching his potential and meeting expectations after battling injuries the past two seasons and was outstanding against Pittsburgh when he struck out eleven batters while only giving up two hits and extended his winning streak to three games.  Freeland had a bad outing against the Cubs on Tuesday but has pitched very well against LA twice this season with a combined 9 strikeouts while giving up 8 hits.  This game starts a two game stretch of very interesting pitching match-ups to closeout this series featuring promising young talent.


Julio Urias, LA (LHP, 0-0, 1.06 ERA) vs Antonio Senzatela, COL (RHP, 5-1, 2.86 ERA)

This is a great match-up to wrap up the series on Sunday since it’ll be the best young pitchers on each team facing off in the finale.  Urias flirted with a no hitter earlier this week, although Manager Dave Roberts insists that LA is standing firm on limiting Urias’ pitch count and he likely wouldn’t have been kept in once he reached his max pitch count.  Senzatela is coming off a solid performance against the Cubs and has won 5 of his 6 starts this season to help lead the Rockies to 1st place in the NL West.  Neither of these pitchers have faced the opponents this season and this pairing could be a preview of a pitchers’ duel we may see for years to come in the NL West.

This is should be a fun series for MLB fans over the next four days featuring two dynamic offenses and stellar pitching staffs.  Coors Field has always been know at a hitter’s park, but some of the best pitching in MLB resides on both rosters and will be showcased over the next four days.  No doubt, with 10 more games between the two teams left to be played this season, things are just starting to get interesting in the NL West with a battle for 1st place this weekend which quite possibly an early playoff preview.


The Rangers Need to Trade Yu Darvish, Here are Some Ideas…


The Texas Rangers are in big trouble right now, and it doesn’t look like things will get easier any time soon.  They just escaped getting swept by the 1st place Houston Astros last night and now head to Seattle to play three games in the Pacific Northwest against a Mariners team that plays far better at home opposed to the road.  The possibility of the Rangers getting swept this weekend is very real, meaning Texas could fall to at least 10 games behind the AL West leading Astros and panic will ensue…if it hasn’t already.  They currently sit 7 games back in the AL West, and it appears that the Astros will run away with this division if they continue their strong play and stay healthy.  The AL East already looks like a lock for the one game Wildcard Playoff (some combo of NY, BOS and BAL), so the Rangers have to clean house immediately and trade current players in order to help rebuild a farm system that only boasts 2 players in the MLB Top 100 Prospect list (#49 OF Leody Taveras and #50 LHP Yohander Mendez) or risk falling into obscurity for the foreseeable future.  That brings us to their next problem being that they have very few veteran players that are the least bit appealing on the trade market and ones that would be enticing are currently on the DL.  To make matters even worse for Texas, it was learned yesterday that ace Cole Hammels will miss at least the next 8 weeks due to injury, so let the Yu Darvish sweepstakes begin!!! Here are a few ideas as to where Darvish could be headed, and how the Rangers can help re-build in the process.  Yu Darvish not only the best trade asset Texas has, but could also be the best available pitcher in MLB via trade and teams will be lining up to add him to their rotations before the deadline.



Yu Darvish – SP (UFA in 2018)



Javier Baez – IF (Under team Control with Arbitration until 2021)


Jeimer Candelario – 3B (Hitting .333 in Iowa right now)



The Cubs offense is fine and in no way, shape or form does the absence of Javier Baez from the Cubs lineup hurt them offensively. The Chicago lineup is currently stacked, and let’s be honest here folks, Ian Happ WILL be your starting 2B for the next 8+ years once he arrives (which will be soon) and Baez will be the odd man out.  As For Candelario, he is having a great season in Iowa but the reality is that Bryant and Rizzo aren’t going anywhere any time soon.  No matter if it’s Texas or some Place else, he will be traded or be a reserve at best.  Baez and Candelario would give Texas 2 young players to add to the mix with Baez possibly taking Odor’s spot at second base and Candelario either moving to 1B or DH in the near future.  The only questionable position for the Cubs right now is pitching.  There is a really good chance that Darvish will leave Texas as an UFA so Rangers need to get what they can and this move gives the Cubs a Solid SP which is an instant upgrade from John Lackey and Brett Anderson.  If Darvish had numerous years remaining on his deal there is no doubt that Texas could get much more, but getting a king’s ransom for a “rental” player will likely scare away many suiters from over-paying.  Cubs have the luxury of being the reigning Champions and certainly have more than enough to win right now, but no sense in not making your team better if given the opportunity.  Since you never know when injuries will strike, there is no such thing as too much good pitching, and this move would be a win-win for both teams.



Yu Darvish – SP (UFA in 2018)



Will Smith – C (2016 1st Round Pick)

Will Smith

Mitchell White – RHP (2016 2nd Round Pick)


Gavin Lux – SS (2016 1st Round Pick)



As a Die-hard Dodgers fan, I am in NO WAY sold on the LA starting pitching right now.  Dodgers have a #1 followed by question marks, inconsistent performances and injuries.  Adding Darvish to the LA rotation would be an immediate upgrade from anyone they have who isn’t named Clayton Kershaw.  “If” healthy (and I stress the “If”), a rotation of Kershaw, Darvish, McCarthy, Wood and Urias could certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason.  Yes, as you made have noticed, I am being extremely optimistic about the LA health and outlook when I include McCarthy and Wood in a potential post season rotation for the Dodgers – but it’s Friday, I ain’t got no job, and I believe in the power of positivity (it’s a new day, yes it is!)  As for the Rangers, they would get to take advantage of LA in this deal by getting both of the Dodgers first round picks from 2016 along with a second round pick that surely has potential.  Will Smith has a few years to go, but he will become an MLB everyday starting Catcher down the road, and the same can be said about the young Gavin Lux.  With the emergence of Seager as the top young SS in MLB and top 2B prospect Willie Calhoun awaiting his call the MLB level, Lux will be the odd man out in LA, so his loss wouldn’t be as hard of a pill to swallow as would be the loss of Will Smith, BUT……if it gets the Dodgers a World Series Championship by adding Yu Darvish it’ll all be worth it.  Mitchell White would be a great addition for Texas as he certainly has a high ceiling and recently converted from a RP to SP.  This move would give the Rangers players that will need a few years to develop but that is a great way to bring along your farm system when your able to trade an UFA and get two first round picks along with a second round pick in return.



Yu Darvish – SP (UFA in 2018)


Adrian Beltre – 3B (UFA in 2019)


A.J. Griffen – RHP (UFA in 2019)



Pablo Sandoval – 3B (UFA in 2021)*Boston pays 100% of Sandoval’s contract


Jay Groome – LHP (2016 1st Round Pick, #1 LHP in MLB Top Prospects list)


Michael Chavis – 3B (2014 1st Round Pick)



This trade “technically” involves six players, but really only five since Texas would only take on the roster spot and not the contract of Pablo Sandoval.  This deal would actually be perfect for both team because of the two pitchers involved.  Boston would add Darvish to a rotation that could possibly look like Sale, Price, Darvish and Rodriguez as your one through four, with Porcello, Pomeranz and Griffin all competing for the five spot entering the postseason.  Boston would be adding Darvish, Griffin and also Adrian Beltre to a roster that is built to win and compete right now.  Beltre is an UFA in 2019 and it doesn’t appear as though he will get that chance to win a ring by remaining in Texas, and this move would allow him to move to a contender and play at 3B for at least the remainder of the season when he returns from injury and he would certainly be an upgrade from Sandoval.  I am totally aware that Jay Groom is the #1 LHP prospect in all of MLB, but Boston is in the most competitive division in baseball and by giving up their top pitching prospect, they would receive what could be the best SP that will be available by trade this season along with an outstanding player to cover 3B or be a DH in Beltre.  Texas, in return, would get a top pitching prospect to build around along with a young 3B in Michael Chavis that will give them flexibility at the corners along with the DH spot for the future.  Taking on Sandoval isn’t ideal, but if Boston was willing to cover his cost, it’s worth it to be able to develop young players during that time along with “tanking” for a few season in order to get those high draft picks.   If Boston was able to add another ring their recent collection, I don’t think they would have any issue giving up Groome and eating Sandoval’s contract to achieve that goal.

I think it’s pretty obvious that Yu Darvish will be traded this season due to the poor play of the Texas Rangers along with the recent loss of Cole Hammels to the starting rotation.  I truly believe that a large market team (like the Cubs, Red Sox, or Dodgers) will be willing to part with some key future assets and possibly current everyday players to add what might be the best player available at the deadline to their respective rotations.  It’s only the first week of May and things are already getting interesting in the MLB trade market, it’s already looking to be an interesting summer.

An Important Week for the Rockies

colorado-rockies-logoAs we near the end of the first month of the young MLB season, one of the biggest surprises has been the first place Colorado Rockies (13-6).  Of their 13 wins, 10 have come against division rivals San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles after winning the season opening series 3-1 while on the road against the Milwaukee Brewers.  Over the weekend, they completed a sweep of the Giants and have actually only lost one series this season against the fourth place Padres.  The good news for the Rockies is that they are winning divisional games early in the season and currently sit in first place, but the bad news is that they haven’t really played anyone that has been the least bit impressive, thus far.  The Dodgers have been floundering at the 500 mark while underachieving, the Giants are completely falling apart (including losing their ace to a dirt-biking accident last week) and only have six wins this season, while the Padres and Brewers are just bad baseball teams and both will likely meet low expectations this year.

That brings us to this week where the Rockies will face two opponents that will test them and show the rest of the league if the Rockies are “for real”, or if they have just had a hot start to the season and will be brought back down to earth.  They host the first place Washington Nationals for four games at Coors Field starting later tonight, with a match-up of Jacob Turner for DC going up against Tyler Anderson for the Rockies.  Anderson is 1-3 this season and is off to a terrible start with 7.32 ERA, however, Turner is making his first start of the year tonight as he fills in for Stephen Strasburg who will miss the series while on paternity leave.  This is a good matchup for Colorado and a win tonight would be huge for the Rockies since they will likely be facing Joe Ross (1-0, 3.86 ERA), Tanner Roark (2-0, 3.65 ERA) and Gio Gonzalez (2-0, 1.35 ERA) to finish out the series.  The Rockies have yet to name a starter for Tuesday’s game, but it looks like they’ll have Tyler Chatwood (2-2, 4.10 ERA) on the mound Wednesday and Antonio Senzatela (3-0, 2.08 ERA) facing Gonzalez on Thursday to wrap up the series.  DC is the hottest team in MLB right now fueled by both stellar pitching along with a great lineup and are currently on a seven game win streak.  This will not only be the first real test for Colorado this season, but could also be a potential playoff preview if the Rockies are able to continue winning games and stay in first place.  Their week gets even more difficult after the Nationals series, though, when they travel to Arizona to face the 12-8 Diamondbacks.  Arizona starts a four game series against San Diego tonight and depending on how that plays out, The Rockies could be playing for first place in the NL West over the weekend.  Both these series will be a true measuring stick to see if the Rockies are in fact, “for real”.  Arizona is another team that many are questioning the legitimacy of due to their hot start, but on paper they appear to be built to contend after a disappointing 2016 season.  The diamondbacks certainly are a better team than both the Padres and Brewers but I can’t say the same about the Dodgers and Giants, so this week will be a test for them, as well.


It’s a little difficult to judge how good this Colorado team actually is right now because of the lack of talented opponents they have faced and the hot offensive starts to the season for Gerardo Parra, Tony Walters and 33 year old Mark Reynolds.  Speaking of Mark Reynolds, he is actually putting Colorado in a tough spot when Ian Desmond returns to the lineup in the near future.  Desmond was signed this off-season for $70 million over 5 years to play first base and he may have to shift to the outfield when he returns to the lineup due the hot start of Reynolds.  Desmond did prove last season that he can play outfield, but that would force the Rockies to move either Parra, Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez out of the lineup.  I suppose that could be a good problem to have for Colorado in regard to “too much talent”, but at the same time you don’t want to fix what isn’t broken and mess around with team chemistry that is currently working well enough to keep them in first place.  Nolan Arenado is also off to an amazing start while becoming the face of the franchise and even if the Rockies do simmer down, the silver lining is that the future is bright in the Mile High City.  Colorado needs to get through this week first, and with two formidable opponents in both the Nationals and Diamondbacks, the Rockies will face their first true test of the 2017 campaign.

A Crowded Outfield in LA


Spring training is under way and the Los Angeles Dodgers have already run into a bit of a problem in regard to the opening day 25 man roster. I suppose that it’s a good problem to have, but the Dodgers have too much current (and future) talent in the outfield and not enough roster spots for all of them.  LA has some decisions to be made and they could end up being extremely difficult for Manager Dave Roberts to make. Let’s first take a look at the breakdown of all the other expected roster spots to see what is left available for the crowded outfield.

STARTING PITCHING (5) Kershaw, Hill, Maeda, Urias, Ryu/McCarthy/Wood

BULLPEN (7) Jansen, Romo, Liberatore, Strippling, Dayton, Stewart, and whoever isn’t the #5 SP and remains on the roster

*Kazmir exited his first start with injury, and I suspect he will either spend the season on the DL, get traded or perhaps even released before the season is under way. McCarthy, Wood and Ryu could also be tradeable assets for the Dodgers since all 3 players are competing for the 5th SP spot and one of the three will be and odd man out in LA.

CATCHERS (2) Grandal, Barnes

INFIELDERS (5) Gonzalez, Seager, Turner, Forsythe, Utley


*Hernandez has the versatility to play infield or outfield so I am not listing him as an outfield roster spot candidate and I expect him to make the team as an extra infielder or outfielder.


Based on those projections, that leaves 5 spots for outfielders. LA currently has eight “legitimate” options who are MLB veterans (one of those currently inactive) and five young options with two of those “kids” looking REALLY good so far this spring. Let’s breakdown those choices and take a look at who will be on the 25 man roster for the Dodgers on opening day.


Andre Eithier

Eithier missed most of last season with injury and only had a few plate appearances in the post season. The LA fan-favorite is the 2nd oldest player on LA (behind Utley) and also the longest tenured LA Dodger. If healthy, Eithier is solid back-up option at RF for the Dodgers and he also has a history of being a very clutch left-handed hitter. His veteran status and voice in the clubhouse should keep him part of this LA team for the entire season. I suppose there is a chance that not being an everyday player could propel Eithier to request a trade, but at age 34 (35 in April), his time in MLB is winding down and staying with LA is likely his best chance at winning a World Series. Eithier will make the 25 man roster as a backup right fielder and claim one of the five available outfield roster spots.


Pederson is a lock to make the roster as the Dodgers everyday starting center fielder. He did have somewhat of a down year last season offensively, but there is still an extremely high ceiling for the 24 year old. Pederson is looking to have a bounce-back year and is expected to be a fixture in the Dodgers outfield for years to come. I have no doubt that Pederson makes the Dodgers roster as an everyday outfielder.


Puig had a roller coaster ride of a season in 2016 and it’s a “make or break” year for the 27 year old. He battled injuries the past two seasons and was also demoted to the minors last year due to a combination of offensive struggles and attitude issues. He returned to the Dodgers after a stint in Oklahoma City but spent a lot of time on the bench the remainder of the season and post season. Puig is currently batting .286 through five games in spring training and also hit a monster home run (that included a signature Puig bat flip) last week and is already looking better at the plate than he had the past two seasons. Puig is aware that his contract is VERY tradeable and LA will not hesitate to move him if his offense or attitude give them reason in 2017. I do remain optimistic that Puig will return to form in 2017 and not only make the 25 man roster, but will also be the Dodgers everyday starting Right Fielder.


Last year’s Cinderella story Andrew Toles is looking to continue his success of 2016. He went from bagging groceries to being a starting left fielder for LA and for the time being, he should retain at that position for the Dodgers in 2017. His numbers in spring training are not that great thus far as he is batting .188 through five games played, but he showed down the stretch of 2016 that he can play and contribute at the MLB level. For the time being, Toles will make the opening day roster and be the Dodgers starting left fielder, but there are a few players in the LA farm system that will be replacing him in the not too distant future (continue reading the article to find out who those players are).


Scott Van Slyke has been a solid player off the bench for the Dodgers during his major league career, but time will soon be running out in LA for the 30 year old left fielder. Van Slyke will be turning 31 in July and could be trade bait for the Dodgers before the deadline since LA has so much young depth at OF in the system. I think Van Slyke will edge out Brett Eibner for the 5th OF roster spot since he has more MLB experience and familiarity with LA after spending parts of the 5 past seasons with the Dodgers. Eibner is having a terrific spring training and should Eithier, Puig, Toles or Pederson get injured, he is primed to claim a roster spot. However, until that happens, Van Slyke is your 5th outfielder and Eibner will be patiently waiting his turn since I predict Van Slyke and Eibner will both be called up and sent down quite a bit during the 2017 season.



Signed this offseason for his history of success against left handed pitchers, Gutierrez has been awful through five games of spring training. He currently has no hits and seven strike outs with 13 at bats and will be released soon if those numbers don’t pick up very quickly. There are too many outfielders within the Dodgers organization who are all currently outplaying Gutierrez which will make his time with LA short-lived. I expect he will be with another team or a free agent on opening day.


The “throw-in” player from last season’s trade that sent Thompson, Micah Johnson and Frankie Montas to the Dodgers is currently battling injury and not presently active for LA. Thompson will be 27 years old this season and barring a slew of injuries to the LA outfield, likely will spend the season in OKC or with another organization in 2017. He had fairly good numbers the first half of 2016 until injuries started to pile up and eventually ended his season, but he is another odd man out and doesn’t fit into any future plans for LA. On a side note, Thompson is the only remaining player in LA stemming from the three team trade with the Reds and White Sox last season.  Frankie Montas was traded to Oakland along with Grant Homles and Jharel Cotton for Rich Hill and Josh Reddick while Micah Johnson was traded to Atlanta for a player to be named. If Thompson is traded away or released, there will be no players left in LA from that transaction and a year removed it appears that the Dodgers were the loser in that three team trade. LA essentially gave Oakland 3/5 of a young starting rotation in the Rich Hill deal and also sent prospect Jose Peraza to Cincinnati in the initial trade where he batted .324 over 72 games in 2016 and looks to be a starting infielder for the Reds for the foreseeable future.



Get familiar with the name Cody Bellinger, because he will be an everyday fixture for LA for years to come. He is listed as a first baseman but he can play outfield as well, which could be his first landing spot for the Dodgers until he takes over the ranks at first base when Adrian Gonzalez is gone (likely after this season). Bellinger is having a great spring training, hitting .278 through eight games and has shown flashes of offensive dominance thus far. The 21 year old was not expected to have a legitimate chance at making the Dodgers roster until 2018 at the earliest, but in the past week he has been killing the ball and also signed with agent Scott Boras (which is usually a sign your pretty close to making it to the “bigs”). It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the Dodgers roster the next few weeks, but it seems very likely that if during the season a roster spot opens up, it might go directly to Bellinger. Although he is still very young, LA is competing for a World Series appearance this season and a bat like Bellinger’s can’t be kept in the minors all season with hopes of championship in 2017. I am not quite sure when or how it will happen, but I expect Cody Bellinger to be part of the Dodgers roster at some point this season, but unlikely it’ll be on the opening day roster.


Alex Verdugo is one of the best left-handed hitting outfield prospects in MLB and is making a very strong case to be part of the Dodgers roster and everyday lineup in the near future. Verdugo is currently hitting .333 through 5 games and the 20 year old is already surpassing expectations as one of the Dodgers top prospects. Like Bellinger, Verdugo will be a part of the Dodgers everyday lineup for years to come once he makes the roster. A player like Verdugo (who can play any of the three OF positions) could force the Dodgers hand at moving Puig, Toles or even Joc Pederson to make room for him and he can immediately take over as an everyday starting outfielder. Similar to Bellinger again, he is just too good to spend all season in OKC when LA is chasing a title and I expect him to be called up at some point in 2017 and contribute right away. To quote Larry David, Verdugo is “pretty, pretty, pretty good” and although not expected to be part of the picture until 2018 or 2019, he is making a very strong case this season to part of the Dodgers roster much sooner than expected.


All three of these players are having very strong spring trainings and look to be valid “backup plans” in case a number of players go down to injury during the season or are even traded away. Speaking of trades, all three of these players could very well be trade bait for LA being that Holt and Dickson are both only 27 and Ramos is only 24. None of them would be “marquee” names in a deal, but I could see them being sent someplace to get a relief pitching in return. Holt is currently batting .538 in spring training and has MLB experience with both the Indians and Reds, so a strong spring makes him an attractive addition for many teams, while Dickson is batting .333 and Ramos batting .357 also both have upsides. The flip side of all three players staying put is LA then has options in the minors should they run into injury issues, or perhaps even someone doesn’t behave himself and forces the Dodgers hand at making some changes (I’m looking at you, Yasiel Puig).


Based on those breakdowns, that makes the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielders for the opening day 25 man roster Andre Eithier, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Andrew Toles and Scott Van Slyke. Much like last season, health and injuries will have a lot to do with the decisions that are going to be made heading into the 2017 campaign. Should those players listed remain healthy until opening day, they round out the LA roster and form a solid outfield.  The Dodgers do, however, have no shortage of alternative internal options should things not go as planned….with Bellinger and Verdugo awaiting the call in the not too distant future.

By Anthony Dunleavy