Bud Black agrees with Dave Roberts: The National League West is “the best division in baseball”

Rival managers Bud Black and Dave Roberts are in agreement: The National League West is the best division in baseball.

After Roberts made the declaration on MLB Network Radio a couple of weeks ago, Black doubled down on the assertion ahead of Tuesday’s second game of the series between the Dodgers and Rockies at Coors Field.

“I know there’s some people who think the NL East is the best, with the Mets and the Braves, and the Phillies had a little run here lately and the Marlins have some good pitching,” Black said. “But overall, I think this division is the best division in baseball.”

Black and outfielder Charlie Blackmon believe both East divisions could rival the NL West, as the American League East features baseball’s best team (the Yankees at 54-20) and three other playoff contenders.

“The AL East might make a case for best division (considering the depth beyond the Yankees), with how the Red Sox are playing, and Toronto and Tampa,” Black pointed out. “Plus, Baltimore’s playing much better this year than they have in recent years.”

Heading into Tuesday, Colorado is 12-11 against division opponents this year, but is under .500 in interleague play (6-8) and has struggled mightily against the NL East with an 8-19 mark. The Rockies remain in last place in the division, 14 games behind L.A., and have finished fourth in the West three years running.

Rockies shortstop Jose Iglesias, who has spent nine of the 11 years of his career in the American League, believes the NL West’s arms give it the distinction as baseball’s No. 1 division.

“The pitching is really deep in this division, so I would agree with (Roberts),” Iglesias said. “That’s not to take credit away from any other division, but there’s just a lot of really good starters and relievers (in the NL West).”

Over the last 10 seasons, the NL West has won three World Series and appeared in two more. The Giants won in 2012 and 2014, and the Dodgers made the Midsummer Classic in 2017, ’18 and ’20, winning the latter.

Black reflects on a young Kershaw. Ahead of Clayton Kershaw’s 45th career start against the Rockies on Tuesday, Black flashed back to when he first met Kershaw ahead of a game at Petco Park in 2008. Black was managing the Padres, and Kershaw was a rookie with the visiting Dodgers.

“He was coming out to throw a side and was walking to the bullpen, and looked over at me up on the rail of the dugout and said, ‘Hello, Mr. Black,’” Black recalled. “And I said, ‘Hello Clayton, you going to throw your side (session)?’ He goes, ‘Yup, I’m going to go work on my curveball.’

“I told him I had noticed him over the last couple months, and that he had a bright future. I said good luck. And he looked back and said, ‘Thanks, Mr. Black.”

Black said that moment has always stuck with him as Kershaw’s gone on to win three Cy Youngs to highlight a Hall of Fame resume. Kershaw is 24-9 all-time against Colorado, with a 3.32 ERA. That includes an 11-6 mark at Coors Field, where he has a 4.57 ERA in 24 starts.

Lord Stanley comes to Coors. The Rockies announced they are hosting the Avalanche for a pregame ceremony on Wednesday ahead of the Rockies’ series finale against Los Angeles. The Stanley Cup will be there, and the honorary ceremony for the NHL champions begins at 6:21 p.m ahead of the 6:40 p.m. first pitch.

On Deck
Dodgers LHP Julio Urias (5-6, 2.48) at Rockies RHP German Marquez (4-5, 5.58)
6:40 p.m. Wednesday, Coors Field
TV: ATTRM
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM

Marquez is coming off his best start of the season, one that provided promise the right-hander might be starting to round into all-star form. Marquez blanked the Twins for 7 2/3 innings in a 1-0 win in Minnesota and five of his last nine starts have been quality. His second-best outing of 2022 came in his season debut against the Dodgers at Coors Field, when he threw seven innings of one-run ball. That continued a career trend for Marquez, who has pitched well against Los Angeles (2-1 with a 2.89 ERA in 12 career starts). Meanwhile, the Rockies blasted Urias for six runs (three earned) in two innings in the southpaw’s start on April 10. However he’s spun three straight quality starts, and has 52 career strikeouts to just 17 walks against Colorado.

Trending: The Rockies’ chances of victory dwindle drastically when they fall behind or are out-hit. Entering Tuesday’s game, the Rockies are 6-26 when being outhit, and their biggest rally of their 18 comeback wins was erasing a three-run deficit. Colorado hasn’t won a game this season when falling behind by four runs or more.

At issue: Entering Tuesday Colorado has grounded into 65 double plays this year, the second-most in MLB, and ranks last in the majors with 31 ground-into-double-plays with runners in scoring position.

Pitching probables
Thursday: Off day
Friday: Diamondbacks RHP Merrill Kelly (6-5, 3.64) at Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (3-4, 4.66), 6:10 p.m., ATTRM
Saturday: Diamondbacks RHP Zach Davies (2-4, 3.94) at Rockies TBA, 7:10 p.m., ATTRM

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