A Healthy Randy Johnson Could Be the Answer In The West.
By Jared Norris
The NL West has seen its fair share of complete starting pitching staffs over the last couple of seasons. Ever since Petco Park opened up April 8, 2004, the Padres starting pitching staff has greatly benefited from the spacious dimensions the Outfield presents. The Padres starting pitching rotation has only finished once outside of the top 7 teams in MLB in ERA since the park opened. They finished first in 2007 with an ERA of 4.11 and second in 2006 with an ERA of 4.10. The 2008 Padres starting pitching staff currently leads MLB in ERA at 2.05. The Padres looked primed to repeat another top performance from their staff this year with the likes of last years CY Young winner Jake Peavy, Chris Young who in 2006 held opponents BA to .206, Future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, a Healthy Randy Wolf and hopefully the old Mark Prior. However, this could be the year the Padres finish outside of the top spot in ERA not only for MLB but for their own division.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were a scary ball club last year with their powerful young talents on offense and a crippled staff that still managed to get them to the playoffs. This year you bring in the former A's ace Dan Haren and a healthy Randy Johnson to team up with an already consistent Brandon Webb, Young phenom’s Micah Owings and Edgar Gonzalez. The most impressive thing about the Diamondbacks staff is they pitch in a hitter's ballpark and still managed to post a 4.23 ERA last season that was good for 6th in the Major Leagues. They did all that with a mixed starting pitching staff of Brandon Webb, Livian Hernandez, Doug Davis, Micah Owings and a combination of Johnson (10 starts) and Gonzalez (12 starts). You would have to think by removing Hernandez and replacing him with Dan Haren and replacing Davis with a healthy Johnson you have the recipe for a pretty filthy starting five.
The biggest question mark lies on Randy Johnson who was born in 1963, meaning he turns a ridiculous 45 in September. If he can somehow defy the odds and make over 20 starts for the D-Backs this year they will be a serious force to be reckon with. The NL West offenses are not filled with the scariest hitters this year so I expect the D-Backs and Padres to have an on-going battle this season for top staff in the NL West and possibly the top staff in all of baseball.