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Series preview: Giants vs. Diamondbacks

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Madison Bumgarner returns to San Francisco, and the Giants get another crack at a team they’ve dominated this year.

San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants return home after a five-game road trip, and they get to face the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team they’ve thoroughly dominated this season, and a team that got worse by selling at the trade deadline.

And to top it all off, they face Madison Bumgarner on Saturday.

But other than that ...


The details

Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Where: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
When: Friday (6:45 p.m.), Saturday (6:15 p.m.), Sunday (1:05 p.m.), and Monday (5:05 p.m.)
National broadcasts: None


Where they stand

San Francisco Giants

Record: 18-20, fourth place in the NL West
Run differential: -4, fifth in the MLB West
Postseason standing: First team out in the NL
Current momentum: Lost one in a row, 6-4 in their last 10

Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 14-24, fifth place in the NL West
Run differential: -38, eighth in the MLB West
Postseason standing: Out by a lot
Current momentum: Lost five in a row, 1-9 in their last 10

Season series: Giants lead 5-1 with a +16 differential


Three Giants to watch

Brandon Belt: At some point you would expect Belt to cool down. Since August 16 he’s 24-48 with 4 home runs, 7 doubles, 1 triple, and 8 walks with just 9 strikeouts. Add it all up and he’s been the best hitting first baseman in all of baseball this season, per wRC+ (minimum: 100 plate appearances). The Diamondbacks have had the third-worst pitching staff in baseball, per FIP, so Belt will have a prime chance to stay hot.

Johnny Cueto: Cueto hasn’t had a great year, but his lone start against Arizona went really well, as he gave up 3 hits, 3 walks, and 1 earned run in 6.2 innings. He’ll take the mound for Sunday’s matinee.

Joey Bart: I told you he’d be in this spot for the rest of the year. Bart was going through it when the Giants visited the Diamondbacks last week, as he went 0-9 with 4 strikeouts and generally looked a bit lost. But Coors Field heals many wounds, and Bart bounced back in the two-game set by going 4-9 with just 1 strikeout, lots of hard contact, and two times reaching base by getting hit.

He’s played half of his 12 career games against the Diamondbacks, so this series offers not only an opportunity to build on his momentum, but a chance to prove he can handle teams adjusting to him.


Three Diamondbacks to watch

Madison Bumgarner: Seems rather self-explanatory, doesn’t it? Bumgarner played 11 years fro the Giants, and spent the first 13 years of his career in the organization. He made four All-Star teams, won three championships, was awarded a World Series MVP and two Silver Slugger awards, and finished in the top five in Cy Young voting twice.

The start to his Arizona tenure has been dreadful, as he’s allowed 18 earned runs in 17.1 innings, but hopefully that’s just due to the back issue that landed him on the Injured List. He’ll be returning from the IL on Saturday for his reunion.

Daulton Varsho: The Diamondbacks traded a lot of veterans at the deadline, and with that they committed to 2020 being a rebuilding and restacking year. Which means they’ll probably play Varsho quite a lot. The 24-year old catcher and outfielder is their second-best prospect, per Fangraphs, and debuted earlier this year.

He’s struggled in a big way so far, hitting just 4-37 with 2 doubles, 3 walks, and 15 strikeouts. But with the Diamondbacks looking to the future, he’ll presumably play a lot this series.

Travis Bergen: You know a team is bleak when I’m digging this deep into the roster to find players to watch, but Bergen has some interest to Giants fans. He was a Rule 5 selection by San Francisco a year ago, and made his MLB debut with the black and orange. He wasn’t particularly good — he had a 5.49 ERA, a 5.55 FIP, and 18 strikeouts to 9 walks in 19.2 innings — but he was a Giant for a few months.

He’s only pitched 0.2 innings for the Diamondbacks since they acquired him from the Toronto Blue Jays as part of the Robbie Ray deal, but he’ll likely get some pitches in against his old team.


Best case/worst case

Best case scenario: A four-game series against a reeling team that they’ve done well against provides a tremendous opportunity for the Giants to move into postseason position. Especially since they have another bad team — the Seattle Mariners — waiting for them at the conclusion of the series. Winning the series 3-1 would put the team at .500, and give them momentum to make a run.

Worst case scenario: Even in an expanded postseason, the Giants can’t afford to lose these types of series if they want to make the playoffs. If Tyler Anderson follows up his poor performance last week, and Trevor Cahill doesn’t look fully healthy, and the team has a hard time finding rhythm after Wednesday’s deflating loss, they could lose the type of series that makes you think they don’t have much of a chance at all.


Prediction

The Diamondbacks are bad. They’re also reeling. They’ve also been horrible against the Giants. They also just got rid of a lot of their best players, and committed to playing their young, not-yet good ones. They don’t have much to play for, and don’t have much talent either.

The Giants, on the other hand, have played well lately, are at home, and have a point to make after the front office kept the team in one piece so they can compete for a playoff spot. I say Giants 3-1.