The San Francisco Giants took two games from the Texas Rangers to win their first series of the year. Now they take that momentum on the road for a dangerous and difficult 10-game trip, which starts with a four-game series at the greatest hitter’s park on earth.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies
Where: Coors Field, Denver, Colorado
When: Monday (5:40 p.m.), Tuesday (5:40 p.m.), Wednesday (5:40 p.m.) and Thursday (12:10 p.m.)
National broadcasts: Thursday (ESPN+)
Where they stand
San Francisco Giants
Record: 5-5, fourth place in the NL West
Run differential: -11, eighth in the MLB West
Postseason standing: Sole possession of the second Wild Card in the NL
Record: 6-2, first place in the NL West
Run differential: +19, second in the MLB West
Postseason standing: Second seed in the NL
Three Giants to watch
Johnny Cueto: Cueto hasn’t been great to start the year, having just 7 strikeouts to 4 walks, while allowing 5 earned runs in 7.2 innings. Going into Coors Field, the Giants will need some surprising pitching outcomes if they want to succeed. Cueto’s the best bet there.
Brandon Belt: I thought about doing Belt and Evan Longoria as a duo here, but I already wrote about Longo for the weekly preview. So let’s focus on Belt, who has only had two starts since returning from the Injured List.
Belt has already shown the keen eye we’ve grown accustomed to, having walked in half of his 10 plate appearances. But he doesn’t yet have a hit in the other half. That’s way too small of a sample size to be concerned about (especially given how valuable walks are), but if Belt can return to something near All-Star form, that will add a huge presence to the middle of the lineup.
Hunter Pence: It wasn’t until Sunday — the Giants tenth game of the year — that Pence got his first hit of the season, a booming triple into triple’s alley. Can that turn things around for him? There’s no better place to start to find momentum as a hitter than Coors Field.
The Giants are only scheduled to face one left-handed starting pitcher though, so it won’t be the easiest task for Pence.
Three Rockies to watch
Nolan Arenado: We all know what Arenado does against the Giants. He can sweep them on his own if he decides to.
German Marquez: Marquez is a very nice pitcher, something that is often not realized because he plays in a park where pitchers go to die. His start to the year has been spectacular, as he’s allowed just 6 hits and 4 walks in 11.2 innings, while striking out 14.
He’s a righty, and Giants have hit better against righties than lefties this year (.740 vs. .701 OPS), so it should be a fun matchup on Tuesday.
Daniel Murphy: After a down year in 2019, Murphy has been mashing to start the season, going .364/.440/.545 in 25 plate appearances. The Giants will be throwing a bunch of righties onto the mound in Colorado, so controlling Murphy’s left-handed bat is a big key this series.
Best case/worst case
Best case scenario: The Giants offense started to click over the last week. As a team, they rank 12th in wRC+ and 11th in position player fWAR. Those aren’t great numbers, but an above-average offense is comfortably better than what any of us had reason to expect.
So where better to keep that going than at Coors Field, the place where soft line drives are triples, and routine flyouts leave the park?
The best case scenario is not just the Giants winning the series, but also having such an offensive explosion that they continue to build on the confidence they’ve been gaining.
Worst case scenario: After leaving Denver, the Giants have three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers (in a hitter’s park), and three games against the Houston Astros (in a hitter’s park), with no off days. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say those are historically great offenses.
The worst case scenario is the Giants giving up so many runs at Coors Field — an easy thing to do — that their pitching staff is entirely depleted heading into those six brutal games.
A .500 outcome for a .500 team. I say they split.