The first week of the 2016 season in the National League West was exciting and unusual. Just when a person thinks they have baseball figured out, something in the sport will surprise them.
After spending big bucks in the offseason to improve the team, the Arizona Diamondbacks have won only two of their first seven games. Zack Greinke, their prize acquisition, hasn't hit his stride yet. The location of his pitches is off a little bit, and this has hurt his performance. Last year, Greinke used the corners of the strike zone to baffle the opposition. Now his pitches, which don't appear to have as much movement as they did in 2015, are up and drifting in the middle of the strike zone.
The D-backs also are having center-field problems after A.J. Pollock fractured his elbow on the final weekend of Spring Training. Pollock can't participate in baseball activities for three months. Although he vows to return this season, it is unlikely. It is doubtful the D-backs will remain in last place for the entire season, but they have a tough schedule in April.
The San Diego Padres got off to a rough start, being outscored 25-0 in the first three games of the season by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite losing one game in Colorado, the Padres look like they can be a factor in the NL West as their offense came alive, scoring 32 runs in three games. Despite having to put Opening Day starter Tyson Ross on the 15-day disabled list, their starting rotation should be able to get some quality starts.
With Jose Reyes suspended indefinitely, many people thought the Colorado Rockies would have problems at shortstop. But Trevor Story already has seven home runs. On Sunday, Carlos Gonzalez homered twice. If pitching holds up through the season, the Rockies could be the surprise team in the NL West.
New Dodgers manager Dave Roberts watched his club shut out the Padres in the first three games of the season, but his club did not fare as well in San Francisco, losing three of four.
Roberts faced a tough decision Friday night, when Ross Stripling took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his MLB debut. The Dodgers led, 2-0, at the time. But Stripling, who is two years removed from having Tommy John surgery, had thrown 100 pitches. Roberts chose to protect the 26-year-old's arm. Although many fans have criticized Roberts for his decision -- particularly when the Dodgers lost the game due to a bullpen meltdown -- he did exactly what a good manager should do.
Meanwhile, the Giants are 5-2 and look like they believe it is their year to return to the World Series. They have no players on the disabled list. San Francisco's lineup is much more powerful than previous years. Of course, the Giants will have rough patches during the season, but their supreme confidence might carry them through without a prolonged losing streak.
This year, the NL West may be wild, if the first week is any indication.
Sarah D. Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.