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.L. West: Who Will Emerge After the Break?

MLB: San Francisco Giants-Photo DayAt the All Star Break, the National League West is so tight that nobody can really be counted out just yet. The Arizona Diamondbacks lead at 50-45. The Los Angeles Dodgers at 47-47 are in second place, 2.5 games back. The Colorado Rockies are 46-50, 4.5 games back. The defending champion San Francisco Giants are 43-51 and 6.5 games out and the San Diego Padres are 42-54, 8.5 games behind.

If you think the Padres are out of it, think again. They have come from double digits below .500 to get back in the race once already. If they look at the standings and take the approach of a race car driver and pick each team off one at a time, they can do this. Each team right now is two games ahead of the next one.

And can we count the Giants out? Hardly. These guys are two-time World Champions. And now it appears that one-time ace of the staff, Tim Lincecum may be on his way back. He pitched a no-hitter in his last start against the Padres. The Giants can take that same approach. First catch the Rockies, then the Dodgers, then go after Arizona.

The Rockies are right in the thick of the race at 4.5 back. What they need to focus on is getting to .500 first. In this division, once you over .500, you are right there.  After they get to the .500 mark, then keep it going and catch the Dodgers.

The Dodgers just need to keep doing what they’ve been doing. They spent most of the first half of the season in last place, but since Yasiel Puig mad his debut in June, they have been on a tear. If the Dodgers keep playing like they have been since the arrival of Puig, they have to be the favorites to win the division.

The Diamondbacks need to avoid the temptation of scoreboard watching for right now. It is tempting to check what the Dodgers are doing and the Giants are doing, but really, that’s not something they can control. If they win their games, then the Dodgers, Rockies and Giants cannot gain ground that day. So for the D-Backs, adopt the old Oakland Raiders motto of “Just Win, Baby!” and you will be fine.

In today’s action, the Dodgers will visit the Washington Nationals with Ricky Nolasco making his third start since being traded from the Miami Marlins. Bookmaker has the Dodgers +140 with Stephen Strasburg on the mound for Washington. The Nats are -160. Strasburg has done little to impress us lately. So we will go with the Dodgers on this one.

The Padres are taking on the St. Louis Cardinals. Former Cardinal Jason Marquis is on the mound for San Diego while Jake Westbrook goes for St. Louis. The Padres are +160 and the Cards are -180. We like the Cardinals at home in this one.

The Chicago Cubs are visiting the Rockies with Jeff Samardzija getting the star for the Cubbies. Jorge De La Rosa goes for the Rockies. The Cubs are +128 and the Rockies -148. We are going with the Cubs on this one.

The D-Backs are at the Giants. Ian Kennedy goes for Arizona while Chad Gaudin will pitch for the Giants. Arizona is +107 and the Giants are -127. We like the Diamondbacks with Kennedy on the mound.

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