|LOS ANGELES DODGERS||ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS|
|Chris Taylor - CF||Jarrod Dyson - LF|
|Corey Seager - SS||Ketel Marte - SS|
|Yasiel Puig - RF||Paul Goldschmidt - 1B|
|Enrique Hernandez - 1B||A.J. Pollock - CF|
|Yasmani Grandal - C||Chris Owings - RF|
|Matt Kemp - LF||Daniel Descalso - 2B|
|Logan Forsythe - 2B||Deven Marrero - 3B|
|Kyle Farmer - 3B||Jeff Mathis - C|
|Alex Wood - LHP||Patrick Corbin - LHP|
In 2017, the Diamondbacks faced what looked like a tough start to their schedule, against opponents who had reached the playoffs the previous year. They opened up at home against a wild-card team (the Giants), then a reigning division champion (the Indians). But they took two of three in their first series, and then swept the next one, before heading out on the road.
In 2018, the Diamondbacks faced what looked like a tough start to their schedule, against opponents who had reached the playoffs the previous year. They opened up at home against a wild-card team (the Rockies), then a reigning division champion (the Dodgers). But they took two of three in their first series, and a win in the first matinee game of the year would mean they then swept the next one, before heading out on the road.
Of course, the parallels are imperfect: for instance, it was a four-game series against the Indians which the D-backs swept last year. And, it’s safe to say, expectations are a great deal higher this time around, with Arizona being a playoff team themselves, rather than coming off a 93-loss campaign. But in what has the potential to be an ultra-competitive division (except for San Diego - Padres gonna Padre), this early stretch where 18 of the first 21 games comes against the NL West is certainly a tone-setter. As the old adage goes, you can’t win the division in April, but you can certainly lose it.
However, there’s an argument to be made that you CAN win the division in April. If you look at the standings last April 30, the five National League teams who would have made the post-season if the schedule ended at that point, were EXACTLY the five National League teams who ended up actually making the post-season. Things were a little more fluid in the AL (the Twins and Red Sox were both out of a playoff spot at the end of the first month), but overall, eight of the ten eventual post-season outfits, were already in place when April finished. All six division leaders through the first month ended up seeing some post-season action.
Of course, it’s a long season, and there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip. But quality takes a good deal less than 162 games to make itself known.