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Reds roll into San Francisco ready to menace the Giants

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It’s the most political headline for the least political series preview.

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MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Reds are rebuilding. Still.

The Giants are not rebuilding. Still.

Whose approach has worked the best? I don’t think that answer is a matter of perspective. I’ll grant you that up until about three weeks ago, the Giants were worse than the Reds, record-wise, since the second half of 2016. That all changed after the Reds’ terrible start to the year and the Giants’ decent beginning. But the Reds have made lateral moves to remain bad seemingly so that, eventually, they’ll be good again. The Giants have made upgrade moves to be better than last year so that they’ll be good this year.

A series win puts the Giants at .500 and in a stronger position to be around that same record for when Madison Bumgarner comes back earlier than expected. There are no gimmes in baseball, but the Giants are well-positioned to win these games. They kinda need to win these games, too. And baseball’s more enjoyable when the Giants are winning, right? Buy your tickets for this series from StubHub and get even more bang for the buck. Yes, that’s an ad, but it’s there for a great reason:

The Giants have not yet played down to their level of competition. This can be a fun series to watch with both teams playing fun baseball, because the Giants are decent and the Reds have won six in a row. AND, tonight is Rugby Night at AT&T Park. See?

For a mess of a rebuilding team, the Reds still have Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett, Tucker Barnhart, and Eugenio Suarez, all players with an OPS over .800. Surprisingly, the Giants have outhomered them, 41-39. If you said the Giants would average one home run per game this season, please report to the principal’s office for being a liar.

Their rotation is mostly young and bad, but I can’t believe I’ve held on this long without talking about their acquisition of Matt Harvey. I’ve been against it, morally, for quite some time. Not because I think Matt Harvey is a bad person who shouldn’t be on the team, but because he’s a bad pitcher the Giants can’t afford to mess around with at this juncture.

And, lo, Grant did back me up on this:

He might have had a come-to-Mazzone moment when the Mets punted him off the roster, sure, but the Giants shouldn’t gamble actual wins and losses on that chance.

He’s not mercurial talent so much as he’s a hard dude to work with who’s coming back from thoracic outlet surgery which has a bumpy and mostly uncertain road to recovery. It should be noted that he probably hastened this condition’s development by being the last remaining healthy pitcher for the Mets and kept going to get them into the postseason. I’m not sure it’s a matter of his “heart” or “commitment” — to me, it has always been about the headaches he creates. He’s a draw and now he’s a draw without an upside. An unnecessary distraction. But in his first start with the Reds, he pitched four scoreless innings against the Dodgers to beat them. So, let me get distracted by that...

This is not a “season thus far” review of the Dodgers, but the Dodgers are the last team the Reds faced and the Reds swept them. The Reds — the 2018 Reds — swept the Dodgers. In a 4-game series. At Dodger Stadium.

As our new good friend Rick S. points out:

Yes, I think that’s very interesting, too, Rick S. Please, please don’t become a problematic Twitter account.

I went back to see exactly how much the 2018 Dodgers matched up with the 2017 Giants (64-98) — a worse team than the 2017 Reds (68-94), by the way — and through 40 games, this Dodgers team is still better, statistically, than that Giants team. And they lost Clayton Kershaw (May 6) later than the Giants lost Madison Bumgarner last season (April 21). Which doesn’t mean much, I suppose, other than the Dodgers simply rotted a bit later. They lost Corey Seager on April 30, and the 2017 Giants really don’t have a Seager equivalent because nobody on that team could hit.

But we’re talking about the Cincinnati Reds here. I thought it important to put their 4-game sweep into context is all.

That’s... that’s hella context.

Hitter(s) to watch: Joey Votto is the obvious choice. Can Tony Watson come in and do this to him?

Pitcher(s) to watch: It’s Matt Harvey, of course. He’s on the marquee wherever he goes. He pitched 4 innings, allowed only 1 hit and struck out 2 against the Dodgers. Expect him to have a lot more against the Giants on Wednesday.

I’m also throwing the other starters into this section exactly because of the “career high in strikeouts” fear. The Giants were mowed down all road trip, and Tyler Mahle has 44 strikeouts in 44 innings pitched this season; Sal Romano has 26 in 42. I’ll be worried if the trend continues.

Prediction: Giants take 2 out of 3. But since I’ve made this prediction, they will lose 2 out of 3. Which, because I just tried to hedge means the Giants will be swept by the Reds.