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Week 4: What to watch for, and how to watch it

An “off day?” What’s that?

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MLB: San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

In last week’s version of this article, I said the following:

At the end of this week, we’ll have a much clearer outlook on two very important questions:

1. Can the San Francisco Giants make the postseason?

2. Will the 2020 MLB season survive long enough to see a postseason?

It seems the answer to both questions is “yes.”

Mind you, a 2-5 week didn’t emphatically answer the first question, but the Giants looked good and competent enough on a brutal road stretch, while just holding enough position in the standings, to keep playing meaningful games. That’s more than many of us thought would happen.

As for the second question, it’s more a matter of baseball’s stubbornness than anything, but it seems like we’re headed for a season completion.

Both questions will be asked again this week, and the schedule doesn’t get much easier for the Giants, as they’ll spend their days playing two of the best teams in baseball. Mercifully the ten-game road trip comes to an end on Wednesday, as does the stretch of 16 games in 16 days.

I’ll they’ll get a much-deserved day off on Thursday.

The schedule

Monday, 8/10: @ Houston Astros, 6:10 p.m.
Tuesday, 8/11: @ Houston Astros, 6:10 p.m.
Wednesday, 8/12: @ Houston Astros, 4:10 p.m.
Thursday, 8/13: OFF
Friday, 8/14: vs. Oakland A’s, 6:45 p.m.
Saturday, 8/15: vs. Oakland A’s, 4:07 p.m.
Sunday, 8/16: vs. Oakland A’s, 1:05 p.m.

How to watch

Regional TV: NBC Sports Bay Area, available through fuboTV (all games except Saturday)
National TV: Monday (ESPN, out of market only) and Saturday (Fox), both available through fuboTV
Radio: KNBR 680 AM/104.5 FM

Where the Giants stand entering the week

The Giants are 7-10, fourth in the NL West, and have an 11.1% chance of making the postseason, per Fangraphs. That’s down from 19.9% at this time last week.

Must-see game

If you can only watch one game, make it Friday’s. The Giants will finally be home after a three-city road trip, and you’ll get to see the beautiful site of Oracle Park, with even more inanimate fans than when the Giants left it.

You’ll get to hear Kruk and Kuip broadcast a game that they can actually see in front of them (though they’ve been doing an excellent job broadcasting remotely). You’ll get to see the Giants rested, after their first off day since July 27.

And you’ll get to see Johnny Cueto, who is always exceptionally fun to watch, and will be making his first appearance since taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Giant to watch

Texas Rangers v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Brandon Crawford has had a rough go of it to start the year, hitting 7-41 with just 2 walks. He’s one of only two Giants to have the unfortunate distinction of being without an extra-base hit (Pablo Sandoval being the other).

He’s also gotten quite unlucky. His exit velocity, barrel rate, and expected batting average are all the highest they’ve been since 2015, when he was an All-Star and won the Silver Slugger.

It’s probably a stretch to say that luck has robbed Crawford of having a good offensive season, but it has robbed him of at least having one that isn’t depressing.

The Giants face a fair number of right-handed pitchers this week, so Crawford will have a chance to reverse some of that poor luck.

Opposing player to watch

2019 AL Wild Card - Tampa Bay Rays v. Oakland Athletics Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

If you don’t follow non-Giants teams, allow me to introduce you to Jesús Luzardo. The 22-year old left-handed pitcher is the number five prospect in baseball, according to Fangraphs, with a 70/70 fastball and a 65/70 slider.

He’s electric.

He’s also starting, and on schedule to face the Giants.

After opening the year in the bullpen, Luzardo was quickly moved into the rotation. After two starts here’s his line: 10.2 innings, 7 hits, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts, 2 earned runs.

That’s pretty darn good.

What beer I’m drinking from my couch bleachers

I always associate Sierra Nevada with the Giants. And while their pale ale is still the gold standard for beer in my eyes, this week I’m reaching for a 7.2% ABV, 65 IBU Torpedo Extra IPA, because this is another scary stretch of games for the Giants and we all need something strong.