We're within two weeks of the end of the regular season in this 60-game sprint of a campaign, and postseason hopefuls and clubs looking to the future alike have goals for the remaining games as the schedule winds down. With the help of all five beat writers covering teams in the National League West, here's a look at what the D-backs, Dodgers, Giants, Padres and Rockies are looking to accomplish.
D-backs: See who is part of the future
A streak of 18 losses in 20 games doomed the D-backs' postseason chances, but the final two weeks for them are anything but meaningless for players who are trying to put themselves on the radar for 2020. Position-player prospects like Pavin Smith and Daulton Varsho are in their first year of the big leagues, while other young players like Tim Locastro and Josh VanMeter are getting more playing time than they ordinarily would. Pitchers like Taylor Clarke, Caleb Smith and Alex Young are making bids for the rotation next year, while relievers like Keury Mella and Riley Smith are looking for bullpen spots. General manager Mike Hazen said that every at-bat and every outing counts, and the organization is looking for the right approach rather than the actual numbers the players put up. -- Steve Gilbert
Dodgers: See if Lux is ready for the big stage
The Dodgers’ biggest goal for the final two weeks of the regular season is to see if Gavin Lux is ready to play second base in the postseason. You’ve heard that before? Wasn’t that last year’s late-September goal? In fact, here the Dodgers are again with the best record in baseball, still uncertain about Lux, the No. 2-ranked prospect in the game per MLB Pipeline. But except for a two-homer game in Arizona last week, Lux has looked much like a late-arriving, Summer Camp-optioned 22-year-old. He’s not hitting, and his infield throws are often off-target. A year ago, Lux got the September callup and started three of five postseason games, but he struck out six times in nine at-bats. Didn’t we see Mookie Betts start a game at second base last week? Hmmm. -- Ken Gurnick
Giants: Make the postseason
Expectations were low for the Giants entering the season, and they appeared on track to miss the playoffs after going 8-16 over their first 24 games of 2020. But a potent offense and an improved bullpen sparked a remarkable ascent for the Giants, who have gone 15-8 since to turn themselves into contenders.
Late-bloomers Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano have emerged as key offensive pacesetters, but the club has also received consistent production from veterans like Brandon Belt, Wilmer Flores and Evan Longoria. San Francisco's surge convinced management to keep the pitching staff intact at the Trade Deadline, leaving a talented duo at the top of the rotation in Johnny Cueto and Kevin Gausman.
The Giants went on a similar run last summer before fading from contention, but they feel they have the depth and talent to sustain their playoff push and continue to surprise down the stretch. -- Maria Guardado
Padres: Get Pham and Hosmer healthy and up to speed
After 14 years without a playoff berth, the Padres are cruising toward the postseason -- so much so that their biggest question mark over the final two weeks centers around the health of two of their best hitters. Tommy Pham is recovering from a broken hamate bone in his left hand, and Eric Hosmer fractured his left index finger a week ago.
San Diego is hopeful to get both back ahead of the postseason. But that might not be enough. It’s imperative that both Hosmer and Pham are swinging like they’re capable of, when the playoffs begin in late September. In a three-game NL Wild Card series, there’s not much room for error. The Padres would like to get both into some game action during the final two weeks of the regular season. -- AJ Cassavell
Rockies: Get to the postseason (and make some noise while there)
The Rockies' minimum goal for the rest of 2020 is to make the playoffs, and there will be the important added responsibility to do something while there. This is a homegrown core and pitching staff that has already made a couple of postseason trips, and they started this year at 11-3 before faltering badly. Missing the playoffs or bowing out meekly will leave the question: Have the Rockies gone as far as they can with their current group? -- Thomas Harding