At the halfway point of the 2012 season, the National League West has already been whittled down to a three-horse race between the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks.
While the Dodgers have led the division for almost the entire season thus far, the Giants made a late push to close out the first half and now hold a slim 1.5 game lead on the Dodgers in the division. For the Diamondbacks, things have been much more under the radar.
With lots of discussion surrounding the Dodgers vs. Giants rivalry, it seems nearly everyone has overlooked Arizona, who lurks just 6.5 games behind San Francisco heading into play on Monday.
After falling as many as six games below .500 on June 1, the Diamondbacks went 16-9 in the month of June to close the gap between themselves and the division leaders. During the same time frame, the Dodgers were 11-16 and the Giants were 16-11.
With all that said, however, what happened in the first half is in the past and the teams are gearing up for a tight stretch run into October. So it begs the question: as a Dodgers fan, who should you be more worried about?
The easy answer is the Giants, given their current lead in the division and their incomprehensible wealth of pitching. At the moment the Giants boast three starters with an ERA below 3.30, and that obviously doesn't include Tim Lincecum.
In fact, I think it's Lincecum who ultimately decides how far this team can go. If Lincecum can return to any semblance of his old self with an ERA around 3.00, then the Giants will be tough to keep pace with assuming they can stay healthy.
Offensively, however, is where the Giants struggle.
Currently led by All-Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera, the Giants lineup is anything but fearsome. Aside from Cabrera, the Giants only other respectable hitters are Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey.
Just a few games behind the Dodgers for third are the Diamondbacks, who boast a model that is nearly the exact opposite of the Giants.
While boasting an average pitching staff, the Diamondbacks have been a pleasant surprise offensively despite lacking national name recognition.
Leading the charge is Jason Kubel, who has 15 home runs and 60 RBI to go along with a .293 average despite a relatively slow start to the season. Behind Kubel are Paul Goldschmidt (12/42/.302), Aaron Hill (11/40/.300), Justin Upton (7/37/.273) and Miguel Montero (8/45/.270).
On the mound, the Diamondbacks are led by some more players who lack general name recognition, Wade Miley and Trevor Cahill. Miley, the team's only all-star game representative, is 9-5 with a 3.04 ERA.
The good news for all three teams is the emergence of a second wild card team this season, a spot the Dodgers only trail by two games.
So moving forward, I'm worried about the Giants pitching and the Diamondbacks hitting, but if I had to choose, I'd say the Giants scare me a bit more just because they've been there and have some postseason experience.
Then again, with the trade deadline looming and moves to be made, who knows what these teams will even look like a month from now.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!