California rivals battling it out in NL West

California rivals battling it out in NL West

The Dodgers have won the National League West in each of the past two seasons, but the San Francisco Giants have won the World Series in three of the past five, including 2014. This, apparently, is how one of the best rivalries in baseball goes. And continues.

Once again, the NL West seems to be a race between these two California clubs, with an outside chance for the other one in the division, the San Diego Padres, to make some noise with a late-season run buoyed by the talent they acquired over the offseason. But while the Padres largely stood pat during the recent non-waiver Trade Deadline, orchestrating a minor deal for reliever Marc Rzepczynski, the Dodgers and Giants seemingly got stronger, particularly on the mound.

Los Angeles, which leads San Francisco by two games entering Wednesday's action, got creative and swung deals for young left-hander Alex Wood and veteran righty Mat Latos, while the Giants added right-hander Mike Leake in a Deadline swap with the Reds. And even if the defending World Series champs can't make up the division deficit during the September stretch drive, they're looking good in the NL Wild Card race ... again.

Leake's Giants debut

What changed at the Trade Deadline?

The Dodgers have been looking for the right rotation combination in the absence of injured starters Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, and they might have gotten it with their flurry of moves at the Deadline. Latos already has pitched a gem for Los Angeles, and Wood is 24 years old, left-handed and under team control through 2019. The Dodgers had to part with prospects, but this team has been in regular reload mode for years now and held onto some of its most valuable gems on the farm, including left-hander Julio Urias and infielder Corey Seager.

San Francisco, meanwhile, needed more arm support with Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson on the disabled list, and the cost of prospects Keury Mella and Adam Duvall was deemed worth it to get the reliable Leake. The emergence of Chris Heston in the rotation has helped the team stay afloat, and Leake's presence can only beef up a starting staff that has been a key to the Giants' prolonged run of success.

Who might still make a move?

The Rockies signaled a rebuild with their trade of Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays. Will they deal Carlos Gonzalez as well? The D-backs seem set with a young and surprising core. The Padres could deal ahead of the August waiver Trade Deadline if they fall further out of it, but it would not be surprising in the least bit to see either the Dodgers or Giants add depth pieces for the pennant drive.

Player to watch

Let's go with Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. This man of many talents has not hit his stride yet in 2015, but if he is healthy, focused and playing to his capabilities, he can be electrifying and would turn an already capable offense into a late-summer juggernaut.

Wild Card

It's still looking good for the Dodgers, who got the rotation stability they desired with their recent trades and already had two absolute beasts headlining that staff in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. That pitching power will be tough for the Giants -- or anyone -- to overcome. It's been an up-and-down year for the Giants, but they're still in solid position for an NL Wild Card slot, and they made the most of that opportunity last year.

Series to watch

Giants @ Dodgers, Aug. 31-Sept. 2
Dodgers @ Padres, Sept. 3-6
Dodgers @ Giants, Sept. 28-Oct. 1

Where does it go from here?

The division could very well come down to the penultimate series of the season between the Dodgers and Giants. That four-game set is to be played at AT&T Park from Sept. 28-Oct. 1. As of now, it looks like these two teams battling it out to the wire.

Doug Miller is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.