Clayton Kershaw, the two-time Cy Young, was on the mound for LA in against St. Louis. Tim Hudson, the long time veteran, was on the mound for SF against Cincinnati. Both teams best pitchers were on the mound to fight for the NL West. Although it is only June, the All-Star break is soon on the calendar, and every team wants to have momentum heading into the second half of the season.
Kershaw took the mound for LA and pitched a stellar game with 13 strike outs, 7 scoreless innings (Making it 28 straight scoreless innings), and a win. Hudson also pitched a great game, with only 2 earned runs in 8 innings, but his own team did not show up. Homer Bailey, for the Reds, threw a 3 hit shutout and the Giants were unable to score one run. For the Dodgers, they smashed the opposing Cardinals pitcher, Shelby Miller, and scored 6 runs in 5 innings.
At the end of the day, LA had defeated St. Louis and had tied the NL West pennant.
With the Giants in a struggle in the past 10 games, going 3-7, the Dodgers have taken their chance to catch San Francisco, going 7-3. LA has had their pitching crew step up, as their opponents are averaging 2.2 runs per game (in the past 10 games), and have all their starting pitchers with an ERA under 4.00.
San Francisco has had their pitching rotation playing slightly below average, but their hitting as the main problem. The Giants are averaging 2 runs per game in the last 10 games, and averaged slightly more than 1 run per game when swept by Cincinnati.
Now, with NL West, the main question will be:
Which team will surge ahead?
Looking at the momentum, the Dodgers would be the favorable pick with a 7-3 record in the past 10 games, and SF with a 3-7 record. Not to mention, the Giants have recently been swept by the Cincinnati Reds.
Looking at the schedule, the Dodgers have the better chance of taking over the number one spot with the Cleveland Indians next on the schedule. San Francisco has the Cardinals up next, who are not a great team, but more of a challenge than the Indians.
Finally, looking at both the teams, the Dodgers seem to have the better team with better players. LA has possibly the best pitching rotation in baseball, with a starting pitcher average of a 2.77 ERA. With their worst starting pitcher being Josh Becket, who has been a runner up in the Cy Young and a three time all-star, the Dodgers pitching crew has little worries.
On offense, the Dodgers are not a fantastic hitting team, but they are definitely filled with potential and the greatness. LA is the 10th best run scoring team in the MLB, with 3 players hitting above .340 on base percentage, and Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, and Hanley Ramirez hitting more than 10 home runs. Not to mention, Matt Kemp, who has been in a 2 year slump, has had a great June of a .320 average and .380 on base percentage. With the Dodgers great pitching crew, there is not much pressure on the Dodgers hitters, which will, and has resulted in very good hitting.
However, on the other side, the Giants are not a horrible team. They have a good starting rotation of Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson leading the way with a 2.59 and 2.90 ERA. After Hudson and Madison, the rotation somewhat drops off with former greats in Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain having a combined 4.40 ERA. However, both are veterans, who can provide great performances in needed times. In fact, Lincecum threw a no-no a week ago!
On offense, the Giants have, again, a good line up. When Angel Pagan returns from the 15 day DL, he brings a great .307 average to the team. With Hunter Pence and Buster Posey teaming up to average a .293 average in the 2nd and 3rd spot, Pablo Sandoval and Mike Morse has a chance to bat in some runs. Sandoval and Morse have a combined 20 home runs this season, and finish a good combination of getting on base and batting in runs.
However, although the Giants are very good team filled with very good players, the Dodgers over shadow them with great players and a great team. The Dodgers average more runs, a better ERA, and force opponents into a tough night in scoring runs in the field. Not only do the Dodgers seem to have better players, but they finish ahead of the Giants in runs, opponents runs, ERA, and almost every statistical category.
At the end of the season, we will find that the tough early start for the Dodgers meant nothing, as the Dodgers look like they will over take the NL West and win the pennant at the end of the year.