On Wednesday, the San Francisco Giants made it official: Johnny Cueto will be the team’s opening day starter. Manager Gabe Kapler announced that Cueto will start the team’s first game, with Jeff Samardzija taking the mound for the second game.
Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly — in one order or the other — will be the third and fourth starters, while the competition remains for the fifth spot.
Kapler said Cueto will pitch Opening Day and Samardzija the second game. Smyly and Gausman or Gausman and Smyly will go next two games.— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) March 11, 2020
The Giants are scheduled to begin the season on March 26, on the road, against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have already announced that Clayton Kershaw will be their opening day starter.
The game, however, may or may not be played, may or may not be in Los Angeles, and may or may not have fans. The coronavirus crisis is starting to impact sports, from cancellations and rescheduling, to playing without fans. The Giants lone home exhibition game, a March 24 contest against the Oakland A’s, has already been pulled.
Cueto has been an opening day starter four times in his career, but this is his time taking the opening day mound in a Giants jersey.
He’s been pretty spectacular in this role in the past. In his four previous opening days, Cueto has gone 1-1, pitched 28.0 innings, and allowed just 13 hits, 6 walks, and 2 earned runs, while striking out 31.
Cueto has also been consistent, pitching exactly seven innings in all four opening day starts, and allowing exactly three hits in three of them (he allowed four in the fourth). So take that to Vegas, if you please.
The Giants may not be good this year, but Cueto vs. Kershaw on opening day sure should be fun.