NL WEST

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - NL WEST - News and notes by Tom Kraso­vic

Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs

That ace Zack Greinke might be past his prime doesn’t seem like a threat to Ari­zona’s stretch-drive prospects.

Greinke, who’ll be 35 in Oc­to­ber, has a 2.93 ERA, and his work­load of 1682⁄3 in­nings is nor­mal by his re­cent stan­dards. When he pitches Aug. 31 at Dodger Sta­dium, he’ll be com­ing off a score­less out­ing of 62⁄3 in­nings (he al­lowed one un­earned run) against the Mariners.

For Greinke to sus­tain his high level, how­ever, he might need to main­tain his un­usu­ally good .270 bat­ting av­er­age al­lowed on balls in play to off­set his home run-to-fly ball ra­tio, which is up five points over his ca­reer mark.

A sta­tis­ti­cal truth is that pitch­ers, by and large, can’t con­trol bat­ting av­er­age on balls in play, though there are ex­cep­tions. Greinke’s mark is the best of his ca­reer and 28 points bet­ter than the league av­er­age.

How­ever, Ari­zona’s ex­cel­lent de­fense might mean Greinke isn’t ben­e­fit­ing from ex­tra­or­di­nary luck.

❚ Brad Boxberger has bounced back from two blown saves in re­cent weeks. He con­verted all four save tries after the blown save July 26, and he got his 29th save Aug. 26 a day after his sixth blown save.

Colorado Rock­ies

The month ahead shapes up as the Rock­ies’ most in­ter­est­ing Septem­ber in awhile.

Can Nolan Are­nado lead the team to its first Na­tional League West ti­tle? If he does, the 27year-old might be in line for his first MVP award (he has never fin­ished higher than fourth in the vot­ing).

Are­nado had a .973 OPS (on­base plus slug­ging per­cent­age) and 90 RBI go­ing into this week and again was hav­ing an ex­cel­lent de­fen­sive sea­son at third base.

He has bat­ted bet­ter than .300 in ev­ery month ex­cept June. He has ex­ploited high-al­ti­tude Den­ver to record a 1.100 OPS in home games, and his road OPS of .847 is bet­ter than av­er­age.

Are­nado has bat­ted .346 with run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion. He has an OPS of more than .900 against Colorado’s two main ri­vals, the Di­a­mond­backs and Dodgers, and in 26 at-bats against the NL Cen­tral-lead­ing Cubs he has bat­ted .462 with five home runs.

❚ The re­turn of Matt Hol­l­i­day is an­other evolv­ing sto­ry­line. Hol­l­i­day hit a 448-foot homer as a pinch-hit­ter Aug. 25 in his fifth at-bat after re­join­ing his orig­i­nal big-league club. Man­ager Bud Black said Hol­l­i­day, 38, will be used pri­mar­ily against left­ies.

Los An­ge­les Dodgers

Things fig­ure to im­prove for Ken­ley Jansen be­cause he has re­gained his hot fast­ball. The closer wasn’t in good form when he re­turned from the dis­abled list last week and al­lowed four home runs in three out­ings.

How­ever, Jansen’s ve­loc­ity was up — to 96 mph — in the Aug. 22 out­ing. The closer was side­lined by an ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat.

The rest of the bullpen doesn’t have Jansen’s sturdy track record, though. The team’s 18-21 record in one-run games through Aug. 26 was an­other tar­geted area for im­prove­ment.

The Sept. 1 ros­ter ex­pan­sion seem­ingly will be bet­ter for the Dodgers than other teams. Depth is an or­ga­ni­za­tional strength, and man­ager Dave Roberts is adept at cre­at­ing fa­vor­able matchups.

❚ Max Muncy’s hit­ting ver­sa­til­ity looms as a strength. Not only has Muncy thrived as a starter — a .965 OPS (on-base plus slug­ging per­cent­age) through Aug. 26 — he also had a 1.103 OPS in 27 plate ap­pear­ances as a re­serve.

San Diego Padres

The Padres prob­a­bly will wait un­til early next sea­son to un­veil pitch­ing prospect Chris Pad­dack, whose dom­i­nant sea­son in the wake of arm is­sues is an ex­cit­ing de­vel­op­ment.

Pad­dack, 22, has com­manded an in­creas­ingly lively fast­ball that re­cently was clocked at 98 mph. The right-han­der has shown a good changeup and an im­prov­ing curve­ball.

In 10 starts with high Class A Lake Elsinore (Cal­i­for­nia), Pad­dack had 83 strike­outs against four walks. He then moved up to Class AA San An­to­nio (Texas) and had a 1.91 ERA and 37 strike­outs with four walks.

“I don’t want to be good. I want to be great,” he told “The Ath­letic.” “I want to be Chris Pad­dack. I don’t want to be a Clay­ton Ker­shaw. I want to be my own name out there in base­ball.”

❚ Class AA San An­to­nio righthander An­dres Munoz, 19, clocked at 103 mph in a re­cent game, and all 10 of his pitches were in triple dig­its.

San Fran­cisco Giants

“We’re very be­holden to a de­mand­ing fan base.”

Brian Sabean Giants ex­ec­u­tive vice president, per the “San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle,” on why the team’s front of­fice is un­likely to launch a full-scale re­build

Giants ex­ec­u­tives say they won’t blow up the ros­ter this off­sea­son even though they have an old club. But they’re not rul­ing out sig­nif­i­cant trades be­fore 2020, es­pe­cially if the 2019 team war­rants it.

“I don’t char­ac­ter­ize it as a re­build,” club President Larry Baer told “The Ath­letic.” “The win-and-de­velop model is not go­ing away. Now, there may be a year where you just, be­cause of the tal­ent that is there, that you have to take a step back.”

The team’s best trade chip might be first base­man Bran­don Belt. Ace Madi­son Bum­gar­ner, catcher Buster Posey and short­stop Bran­don Craw­ford seem cer­tain to re­turn. Be­yond this year, the Giants owe $365 mil­lion to seven play­ers.

❚ Posey, 31, will miss the rest of the rea­son while re­cov­er­ing from right hip surgery. Nick Hund­ley and prospect Aramis Gar­cia will fill in. Hund­ley is eli­gi­ble for free agency in Novem­ber.

RON CHENOY/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Rock­ies third base­man Nolan Are­nado was bat­ting .311 with 90 RBI and an NL-lead­ing .973 OPS go­ing into the week and was hav­ing an ex­cel­lent de­fen­sive sea­son.

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