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Giants @ Pirates, 4/21

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Dereck Rodriguez (RHP; 2-2, 3.90 FIP) vs. Chris Archer (RHP; 1-0, 3.21 FIP)

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

We should take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the Giants helping two rookies get their first major league hits on the same day as their major league debuts. The Padres did not extend the same courtesy to Connor Joe and Michael Reed, and we might never know why.

Meanwhile, Derek Holland graciously got them on the board, and when he realized that the weather was going to be a problem going forward, graciously unbroke a 1-1 tie so that the umpires could put on a show of hemming and hawing before finally deciding to end the game with a 3-1 Pirates win. Derek Holland knows that the best way to get through all the losing he and his teammates will suffer this year is to fast forward through the season.

Since we’re mostly going to get losses, let’s at least do them in five innings. Meanwhile, here’s the lineup that will beat the Giants today:

Last summer’s Chris Archer trade was another in a series of confounding moves made by the Rays that stretched all the way back to the previous offseason. He was their remaining face of the franchise and top of the rotation of starter, and then he was gone. Did the $27.7 million remaining on his deal over the next three seasons have something to do with it? Sure seemed like it. Sure seemed like the Rays were hacking payroll and dumping good players just to bolster their profit margins and were willing to sacrifice competing in a tough division just to tread water.

Lo and behold, the Rays won 90 games without Chris Archer, they’re at the top of the AL East this season with Chris Archer, and it turns out that even though they are definitely looking to spend $5.00 to field a major league team, they are also incredibly savvy and much, much, much, much smarter than most of us (although, yes, there are many of you who know that everything the Rays do always works out 100% and that they are and always have been certifiable geniuses).

It was sort of a rough year for Archer in 2018. He had a 94 ERA+ overall and a 92 ERA+ (4.30 ERA / 4.00 FIP) in 52.1 IP with Pittsburgh. He maintained his roughly career ratio of 3:1 strikeouts to walks (60 K: 18 BB), but he also allowed 53 hits, including 8 home runs. That’s a 3.5% home run rate (he faced 225 batters with the Pirates), almost a full percent higher than his career HR rate of 2.67%.

His line this year is very sharp. In three starts, he’s struck out 24 in 18 innings, walked 7, allowed 11 hits (including 2 home runs). Today, he’ll make his first start since receiving a five-game suspension for throwing at the RedsDerek Dietrich, who pimped the heck out of a home run he hit in Pittsburgh. Archer won’t have to worry about any of these Giants doing that:

Rodriguez got the lone win in the Nationals series after allowing just 1 run in 5 innings. He’s pitched at last 5 innings in all four of his starts this season. He made one start against the Pirates last season, striking out four, walking one, and allowing two hits and one run in 7 innings to get the Giants one of their final wins of last season. He’ll be facing a much different lineup this morning, but at least he won’t have to worry about giving up game-winning and/or first career major league hits.