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Series Preview: Giants vs. Padres

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The first series is in the books. Can the second one be as successful?

San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants did a surprising and glorious thing in their opening series, splitting four games with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

They won’t split their second series though* — because it’s three games long. They’ll have to either win or lose. I vote for the former.

*Unless the season is canceled after two games, which could totally happen.


The Details

Who: San Francisco Giants vs. San Diego Padres
Where: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
When: Tuesday (6:45 p.m.), Wednesday (6:45 p.m.) and Thursday (6:45 p.m.)
National broadcasts: Thursday (FS1)


Where they stand

San Francisco Giants

Record: 2-2, tied for third in the NL West
Run differential: -12, tied for eighth in the MLB West
Postseason standing: In a four-way tie for the two Wild Card spots

San Diego Padres

Record: 3-1, first in the NL West
Run differential: +12, tied for second in the MLB West
Postseason standing: Tied for the top seed in the NL


Three Giants to watch

Jeff Samardzija: After four games in LA, only one Giant had not played: Jeff Samardzija. It seems clear that the Giants didn’t trust Samardzija against the Dodgers righty-murdering bats, in a hitter’s ballpark.

And for good reason. Despite having Oracle Park as his home, Samardzija gave up 1.39 dingers per nine innings a year ago, with 12.6% of his fly balls clearing the fence. In his lone appearance at Dodger Stadium, he gave up a pair of home runs.

Still, the Giants threw everything at the wall in the opening series, and Samardzija still wasn’t included. Not exactly a vote of confidence, especially when they could have used him for an inning or two as part of his throw day, as they did with Drew Smyly.

It would seem the Giants are a touch hesitant about where the Shark’s arm is right now, so all eyes are on him as he starts the series opener.

Mauricio Dubón: It was a rough opening series for Mauricio Dubón. The lovable youngster didn’t record a hit until the series finale, and finished the series 2-14 with no extra-base hits, no walks, and no hard contact that I can remember. But there was good news. He got starts at three different positions, and was in the lineup for all four games. It’s clear that the Giants view him as one of the few everyday players, rather than just a platoon option. The Giants are scheduled to face only right-handed starters against the Padres, so Dubón will have his work cut out for him if he wants to work on his slash line.

Joe McCarthy: In all likelihood, Joe McCarthy only made the Opening Day roster because Brandon Belt was on the Injured List. That roster opening allowed him to not only make the team, but also make his MLB debut in the first game of the year. He struggled in the series, going 0-8 with 3 strikeouts, and generally failing to make good contact.

Belt is likely to rejoin the team for Thursday’s game, which means McCarthy’s time on the active roster is probably limited. But with right-handed pitchers on Tuesday and Wednesday (as well as Thursday, should Belt not be activated), McCarthy will likely get his chance to grab his first MLB knock, impress the Giants brass, and avoid going the route of Connor Joe and Michael Reed.


Three Padres to watch

Fernando Tatis Jr.: Simply put, Fernando Tatis Jr. is one of the most fun players in baseball. He has fewer than 400 career plate appearances, but he’s already a star. In 372 plate appearances as a rookie he hit .317/.379/.590, accumulating 4.1 rWAR despite playing just half a season. In other words, he played at an MVP pace while being just 20 years old. The shortstop is picking up where he left off, starting 2020 by going 5-15 with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 3 walks, and 1 stolen base, all while playing one of the weakest offensive positions in baseball. He plays with joy, flair, and style, making him even more fun than he is valuable.

Chris Paddack: The Giants got a rude introduction to Chris Paddack, when he made his MLB debut against them in 2019. He was stellar in that game, which foreshadowed his entire rookie year. The powerful right-hander is an ace in the making, and Giants proved against the Dodgers that they’re not that well-equipped to handle right-handed pitchers (not that they’re well-equipped against lefties, either).

Manny Machado: The Padres $300 million man was decent in 2019, but not great. He’ll surely be looking to get off to a hot start, and the Giants present a pretty nice opportunity to do so.


Best case/worst case

Best case scenario: The Giants proved, in taking two games from the Dodgers, that anything can happen in baseball. They didn’t look good in LA, but in the final two games of the series they didn’t not look good either.

They can win this series, likely 2-1, but a sweep is on the table. But the best case scenario is the Giants looking good while winning the series, giving them some steam heading into their next series.

Worst case scenario: The Giants had a tiny bit of momentum heading into Opening Day, after an encouraging exhibition series against the Oakland A’s. And then they got punched in the face with a bag of bricks. They lost the first two games by a score of 17-2, and they weren’t nearly as close as that score would indicate.

Now they enter their home opener with a little regained momentum. The worst outcome is once again getting punched in the face, this time by the Dodgers Junior Circuit squad.


Prediction

The Giants aren’t as good as the Padres, but they are feisty, at home, and playing a silly sport. I give them series victory, something they didn’t achieve until the fifth series of 2019.

2-1 Giants.