Who Will Win the AL West From a Pitching Aspect?
The AL West has certainly done their fair share of bulking up this offseason to try and compete with the beasts in the east. The west has seen established All-Star-caliber players such as Prince Fielder, Robinson Cano, David Freese and, most recently, Shin-Soo Choo joined the division. But with all of the line-ups bulking up and filling out, who has the advantage in actually getting guys out?
With all of the money being directed toward the offenses, over the course of a long season, pitching depth, health and quality could be put into question. In examining the division, all five teams can use another pitcher or two in order to truly contend. And with all do respect to the Houston Astros, Scott Feldman had a nice season last year, but he is not a No. 1 starter, and Houston is still a few years away from being competitive.
The Oakland Athletics have made a boat load of moves this winter and have really put a focus on the bullpen. The A’s key pitchers include Jarrod Parker, Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray and new closer Jim Johnson. As promising as the staff looks on paper, Oakland still really lacks a true No. 1 starter.
In L.A., the Los Angeles Angels were a major disappointment last year. They do have a nice one-two punch in Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, and also recently acquired two young lefties in Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago. However, how will the starting rotation survive a full year beyond Wilson and Weaver? It was not enough in 2013; will it be enough in 2014?
The Seattle Mariners are trying to get back to relevance with the moves they have made. Seattle has a premium ace in Felix Hernandez coupled with Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker. There is still also a possibility that they could land David Price, which would really shake up the division. The Mariners will need to hope that the starters can pitch deep into games, however, as their downfall could be in the bullpen.
Lastly, the Texas Rangers have lost a closer in Joe Nathan, and have to hope that Neftali Feliz can stay healthy and regain his form. Texas also has Yu Darvish and Derek Holland, but drop off after that. Like the Angels, Texas could use an upgrade in the back half of the rotation.
Each of the four teams could use an upgrade either in the rotation or bullpen, and any move would change the landscape out west yet again. Seeing a Price in Seattle, or a Grant Balfour in Texas would bolster the staffs. Do the teams in the AL West still have enough left in the bank to add enough pitching and be competitive late in the season?
While the offenses of each team out west have been upgraded, it may have been at the expense of the arms race, and in October, pitching wins championships. For that reason, World Series hopes may still be out of reach out west.
Nick Schaeflein is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.
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