Five big questions in the NL West, starting with the Dodgers’ superiority


The season’s less than a week away and the key free agents have found new homes — except you, Michael Conforto — so it’s time to start taking a look at the key questions in each division.

Let’s wrap up our series with the NL West.

MORE QUESTIONS: NL East | AL East | NL Central | AL Central | AL West

Does anything in the regular-season matter for the Dodgers?

Honestly, no. Regular-season results aren’t important. This team is going to make the playoffs, and its only goal is winning a World Series. They’d like to get Cody Bellinger figured out, of course. They don’t have to, though. They’d love to win the NL West. They don’t have to, though.

Mostly, the goal is to get to October with every key player healthy. That didn’t happen last year: They were without Clayton Kershaw, and Max Muncy’s absence didn’t help. Gavin Lux could have a big season, all over the field.

Can the Giants repeat their amazing 2021 season?

Will they win 107 games again? Probably not. But, Giants fans, that is not a slight, I promise. Extraordinary things have to happen to get to 107 victories in a season. You know how many franchises have ever won at least 107 games in a season? The answer’s 11. Only 11 of the 30 franchises have ever gotten there. The Cardinals, one of the league’s long-time great franchises, have never won 107 games in a season. Same for the Braves, Phillies, White Sox, Tigers and, yes, the Dodgers.

Will the Giants get to the postseason?

Yes, almost certainly. Does it matter whether they win the NL West or reach via a wild card? The 88-win Braves of 2021 will tell you all that matters is getting into the postseason, and you control your own destiny from there.

What should we think of the Tatis-less Padres?

Honestly, I don’t know. They should be good. The talent is there, even with Tatis on the sidelines for a couple of months. But the talent was there last year, too. So I guess the question is how mentally prepared are the Padres for erasing the disaster of last season’s collapse.

The Padres made changes, including the move of replacing first-time manager Jayce Tingler with respected veteran skipper Bob Melvin. They traded for Luke Voit. They get Mike Clevinger back from injury. But how they, as a team, react is something we’ll only learn as the grind of the season wears on.

MORE: Offseason grades for every MLB team

How will Kris Bryant like Colorado?

Denver is beautiful. He’ll get to face Diamondbacks pitching quite often in the NL West. Well, this year at least. He’ll enjoy hitting in Colorado. And the massive checks will be nice.

But for a guy who has spent most of his career on teams that win a lot of games and play important contests in September and October, the transition might be rough. The Rockies do have nice pieces, but competing in the division with the Dodgers and Giants (and Padres) is going to make even getting to .500 a challenge for the foreseeable future in Colorado.

Will 2022 be better than 2021 for the Diamondbacks?

Yes, absolutely. But improving on a 110-loss season isn’t the bar the D-backs are hoping to clear this season. Look, everything went wrong last year.

But there is reason to hope over the next six months. Not hope for the playoffs, but hope that the team has a chance to be competitive most nights and win more games than most expect. If the starters they have stay healthy, a rotation with Madison Bumgarner, Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Zach Davies isn’t a world-beater, but it’s not awful. If Ketel Marte stays healthy, that’s a big boost. If Seth Beer shows he’s ready to hit homers in the big leagues and if Carson Kelly, Pavin Smith and Daulton Varsho are ready to take a step forward toward the players the D-backs believe they can be, then this team might not be too shabby.

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