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Dodgers showing strength in NL West

Many believed in the Los Angeles Dodgers before the season began. Vegas had them as one of the premier favorites to knock off the Chicago Cubs in the National League, while most saw them as the obvious choice in the NL West.

With almost half the MLB season in the rearview mirror, it’s safe to say the Dodgers are making good on their preseason expectations. Entering play on Friday night, Los Angeles led the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies by 1.5 games each in the sport’s most competitive division. If the postseason were to start tomorrow, both wild cards would come from the West, with both the Rockies and Diamondbacks sitting a whopping 19 games above the .500 mark.

As for the Dodgers, they are 48-26 and on a roll since calling up Cody Bellinger on April 25. Bellinger, 21, has become the talk of baseball after being one of the biggest prospects entering the campaign. Despite only playing in 54 games, the youngster leads Los Angeles with 22 home runs and 49 RBI, giving him a real shot at 50 homers and 100 runs batted in as a rookie.

The lineup around Bellinger has done the job as well. Justin Turner is hitting an absurd .387 in 50 games, and would be leading all of MLB in hitting if he qualified. Turner has just five homers on the year, but is boasting 14 doubles and a .464 on-base percentage. Corey Seager is also mashing with a .293 average and 12 homers, complimented by 45 walks against 64 strikeouts. Seager and Bellinger are the future of the Dodgers, taking over the mantle from an aging Adrian Gonzalez.

On the mound, Clayton Kershaw is putting together another Cy Young-worthy campaign. Kershaw has pitched in 15 games and produced 12 quality starts. The southpaw already has 10 wins and a 2.63 ERA, to go with 115 strikeouts in 103.1 innings. Alex Wood is also throwing Los Angeles into the top of the NL standings, compiling a 1.90 ERA and a perfect 7-0 mark. Finally, veteran Brandon McCarthy has been able to stay healthy and is giving the Dodgers a consistent option in the middle of the rotation to the tune of a 2.87 ERA and 1.07 WHIP.

Despite the early-season success, Los Angeles has concerns. McCarthy is good for a DL stint of two annually, and Bellinger is bound to slow at some juncture. If he doesn’t, we’re looking at the next Jimmie Foxx. If either of those two things happen, the Dodgers might have a tough time holding off Arizona and Colorado, which both seem hellbent on reaching the playoffs in unexpected fashion.

Still, the Dodgers are rolling toward the All-Star break, making short work of the rest of the National League.

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