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Week 3: What to watch for, and how to watch it

The Giants are hitting the road.

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MLB: AUG 01 Rangers at Giants Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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?

The Giants are embarking on a 10-game road trip, with no off days and utterly terrifying competition. They enter the journey sitting at .500, which is not a bad place to be with the expanded playoffs looming. If they can go even 3-4 this week, they’ll be in a place where they can at least see the postseason as the schedule starts to loosen up for them (though it’s worth noting that as soon as this week ends they have three on the road against the Houston Astros. Then it gets easier.).

But if they go 2-5 or 1-6? They’ll be facing quite an uphill climb.

That’s if there’s a season to play. This week should be quite telling, what with the amount of coronavirus outbreaks, the shifts in protocol, and the sheer number of postponed games. If the league makes it through the week — either because of improvements, stubborn stupidity, or a concoction of both — there’s a good chance it makes it through the whole season. But that’s a tall task.

The schedule

Monday, 8/3: @ Colorado Rockies, 5:40 p.m.
Tuesday, 8/4: @ Colorado Rockies, 5:40 p.m.
Wednesday, 8/5: @ Colorado Rockies, 5:40 p.m.
Thursday, 8/6: @ Colorado Rockies, 12:10 p.m.
Friday, 8/7: @ Los Angeles Dodgers, 6:40 p.m.
Saturday, 8/8: @ Los Angeles Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Sunday, 8/9: @ Los Angeles Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.

How to watch

Regional TV: NBC Sports Bay Area, available through fuboTV (all games)
National TV: Thursday (ESPN+), Friday (MLB Network), Saturday (MLB Network), and Sunday (MLB Network)
Radio: KNBR 680 AM/104.5 FM

Where the Giants stand entering the week

The Giants are 5-5, fourth in the NL West, and have a 19.9% chance of making the postseason, per Fangraphs. That’s up from a 15.5% chance this time last week.

Must-see game

If you can only watch one game this week, make it Thursday’s finale against the Rockies. It’s the capper of a four-game series, which means it will likely decide whether the Giants enter their daunting series against the Dodgers feeling motivated and energized, or deflated and demoralized.

It’s also a day game, which the league has been kind of avoiding. It’s one of just two weekday day games the Giants have in August. And it’s Drew Smyly’s spot in the rotation, but he’s on the Injured List, and we don’t know who will start.

Last but not least, it’s the day rosters have to be trimmed from 30 to 28 players.

Giant to watch

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

I was excited about Evan Longoria coming into Spring Training. After a rough initial year with the Giants in 2018, he had a nice season in 2019, bouncing back with both the glove and the bat. Is his contract a bit rough? Certainly. But that doesn’t mean he’s bad.

But then I was dubious coming into the new 60-game season. Longoria started the year on the Injured List, and when he was activated on Thursday he essentially said, “I’m not healthy but I’m as good as I’m gonna be.” It didn’t inspire confidence.

His play, however, did. Through four games he’s hitting 6-14 with 2 doubles and 1 home run. He’s walked twice while only striking out twice as well.

And it passes the eye test. He’s not dinking and doinking all over the show. He’s making hard contact, and his bat looks incredibly well balanced. In fact, despite his stellar line .429/.444/.786, his weighted on-base percentage is a full .100 points below his expected weighted on-base. It could just be a hot streak, but it could be another bounceback. This week could tell us a lot, and the answer will have a strong impact on the Giants outlook this season.

Opposing player to watch

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw, who is a very kind and considerate man, missed the Giants opening series with the Dodgers after being a late scratch due to an injury. He’s not likely to be so kind a second time around.

Kershaw returned to the mound on Sunday night and did some very Kershaw-esque things: 5.2 innings, 3 hits, 0 walks, 0 runs, 6 strikeouts.

This is the part of the article where, against both your and my better judgement, I remind you that Kershaw has a career 1.74 ERA in 342.1 innings against the Giants.

What beer I’m drinking from my couch bleachers

This week I’m imbibing From LA Wit Love, a 4.8% ABV witbier that has strong orange and coriander vibes from Smog City Brewing.

The reasoning should be fairly simple here: The Giants are headed to LA, and I would like the city to give them some love. They certainly need it.

Also it’s a tremendous beer from one of my favorite breweries, so there’s that. And they ship 32-ounce crowlers.

I hope it’s a good week for all of you.