Trade Deadline questions for NL West clubs

August 13th, 2020

The buildup to Major League Baseball's Trade Deadline is just as crucial as the Aug. 31 Deadline itself.

If anything, the days before the Deadline could be more critical than usual. The 60-game regular season affords teams less opportunity to evaluate potential moves before reaching a decision. The timetable is accelerated as it never was before. Where there once was the “dog days of August,” there are now more watchdogs in each team’s front office, poring over reports and metrics in the hopes of setting up rosters before making the best possible transaction.

And given the expanded postseason format, an increased number of teams could be tempted to engineer deals that might upgrade their rosters.

First, each ballclub must examine its own personnel to determine who’s available and who isn’t. That’s largely what the next two and a half weeks are about. Here's where the National League West clubs stand as the Deadline nears.

D-backs: Is the rotation going to pick up its production?
’s fastball velocity is down and he’s on the injured list. is still trying to figure out the timing in his delivery. has struggled after three innings in his starts. It has left the D-backs wondering what to make of their starting rotation. The team has been built on its rotation for the previous three seasons, and it was expected to be a strength this year as well. To be a force again, the D-backs will need Bumgarner to figure out how to pitch with a slower fastball, and Ray and Weaver will need to get back on track.

Dodgers: How stable is their rotation?
At first glance, the Dodgers appear to be loaded everywhere, including with their pitching. But the rotation situation might be a little more fragile than observers realize. is seemingly healthy, but will he remain that way? The rotation is strong as it is set up now, but depth is lacking. The Dodgers must weigh the need for a stable arm against what it would cost to get one, in a shortened season with a larger playoff field than usual.

Giants: Can Gausman continue to dominate?
delivered the Giants’ first quality start of the season against the Dodgers on Sunday, when he fired 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball while striking out six and walking none. The 29-year-old right-hander paired his upper-90s fastball with a diving splitter, and his ability to maintain his stuff deep into his outing should put him on the radar of contenders who will be seeking pitching help ahead of the Trade Deadline. Gausman signed a one-year deal with the Giants over the offseason and has experience pitching out of the rotation and the bullpen, so he could end up being their best trade chip if he continues to pitch well and the club fades.

Padres: Are they getting enough at catcher?
The Padres don’t need defensive whiz to hit .300 to be valuable. They don’t need the toolsy to win Gold Gloves. But they definitely need more production out of both. Hedges and Mejía opened the season in a rut that lasted about two weeks. The Padres hope they’re starting to break out of it. Mejía homered Sunday, and Hedges followed suit on Monday night. If that duo can turn things around, the Padres think they have a pretty complete lineup. If not, general manager A.J. Preller will almost certainly be on the lookout for a catching upgrade at the Deadline.

Rockies: Can Díaz handle the closer role?
struggled in his third outing, then landed on the injured list with a right shoulder strain. , identified as the Rockies' closer of the future when he was acquired from the Angels in December 2014, posted a 1.35 ERA and struck out seven in his first 6 2/3 innings. But he also yielded seven hits and walked two. Do the Rockies stick with Díaz, or go to a multi-closer system? Either way, and even if Davis returns and pitches well, it would be smart to acquire a proven late-game reliever.