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Series preview: Giants vs. Dodgers

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Just close your eyes and hope for the best.

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

And just like that, the San Francisco Giants are back in Southern California, visiting the Los Angeles Dodgers once more.

Things went about as well as they could have hoped last time, as they worked a series split despite getting dramatically outplayed by a dramatically better baseball team.

Can they repeat that outcome? Well, no, because it’s a three-game series.


The details

Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Where: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
When: Friday (6:40 p.m.), Saturday (6:10 p.m.), and Sunday (1:10 p.m.)
National broadcasts: All three games (MLB Network)


Where they stand

San Francisco Giants

Record: 6-8, fourth place in the NL West
Run differential: -16, seventh in the MLB West
Postseason standing: First team outside of the playoffs
Current momentum: Lost one in a row

Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 9-4, second place in the NL West
Run differential: +33, first in the MLB West
Postseason standing: Fourth seed in the NL
Current momentum: Won two in a row


Three Giants to watch

Jeff Samardzija: When the season started, the Giants made Samardzija the fifth starter for what I’m guessing are three reasons:

  1. They didn’t think he was pitching well
  2. They wanted to avoid having him face the Dodgers
  3. They wanted to avoid having him pitch at Dodger Stadium

That worked out well in the opening series, but now they’re back in sunny LA, and guess who starts the series for the Giants?

Hunter Pence: Pence still has just one hit on the season, and just one walk as well. But the Giants are sticking with him, and he’s had some good at bats that came up empty. With lefties due on the mound for the Dodgers on Friday and Saturday, Pence will get his chance.

Evan Longoria: It’s been a nice start to the season for Longoria, after he missed the first week with an injury. The Giants offense has overperformed, and is set to regress — if Longoria can provide a solid middle of the lineup presence against the Dodgers lefties, that will go a long way towards success.


Three Dodgers to watch

Clayton Kershaw: The Giants will face Kershaw on Saturday, after avoiding him in the opening series when the three-time Cy Young winner hit the Injured List. Kershaw is an extremely good pitcher who is even better against the Giants, in case you’re new to baseball.

Corey Seager: Seager has had two down years following a start to his career that saw him make the All-Star team twice and earn a top-three finish in MVP voting. But he’s making up for lost time so far in 2020, hitting 17-49 with 3 home runs, 4 doubles, and just 5 strikeouts. The Giants are putting right-handed pitchers on the mound in all three games, and Seager is already salivating.

Cody Bellinger: Bellinger has been the opposite of Seager. After winning MVP a year ago, the center fielder has been limping out of the gates, hitting just 9-53, with 2 home runs and 1 double. He’s been worse with the bat than Pablo Sandoval and while, if you’d told me that before the season I’d hope it was a sign of how well Sandoval is hitting, it’s emphatically not.

Like Seager, Bellinger is a lefty, so he stands to benefit from facing the Giants right-handers. As Nolan Arenado proved this week, the Giants are the perfect opportunity for a struggling star to right the ship.


Best case/worst case

Best case scenario: Kevin Gausman has been good this year, and Johnny Cueto has shown flashes. If those two start to maximize their potential, the Giants could steal two games in the series and, remarkably, come out on top in their seven road games against the Dodgers.

Worst case scenario: The Dodgers are a lot better than the Giants, and they could make that very apparent. A sweep is very possible, and it would leave the Giants limping into Houston to take on a very good Astros team, while sporting a 1-6 record on the road trip.

Worse yet, some typical Dodgers offensive explosions could leave the Giants pitching staff depleted before facing another great offensive team.


Prediction

I honestly think a series win is quite doable, since baseball is extremely drunk and the Giants have exhibited lots of fight this year. But while it’s doable, it’s certainly not the outcome I’m going to lean on, so I say the Giants take one of the three games.