The San Francisco Giants are currently riding a four-game winning streak, and genuinely look like a good baseball team. While they deserve credit for that, it’s unclear just how much — three of those four games were against the Colorado Rockies, an emphatically bad team, so that certainly contributed.
Now the Giants get to test their hotness against another team that’s pretty hot: the Cincinnati Reds, who seem to have made it their mission to punish the new baseball by hitting it extremely hard.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds
Where: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
When: Monday (6:45 p.m.), Tuesday (6:45 p.m.), and Wednesday (12:45 p.m.)
National broadcasts: Monday (MLB Network, out of market only), and Tuesday (ESPN)
Where they stand
San Francisco Giants
Record: 6-3, 3rd in the NL West
Run differential: +5, T-4th in the NL
Postseason standing: Sole possession of the second wild card
Record: 6-3, 1st in the NL West
Run differential: +20, 2nd in the NL
Postseason standing: Tied for the No. 2 seed
Three Giants to watch
Brandon Belt: Belt got off to a slow start this season, which is extremely understandable, given that he had only nine plate appearances all spring. It was amazing that he was even on the Opening Day roster at all.
But on Sunday, Belt destroyed a pitch that was in, and sent it over the right field wall for his first home run of the year. Here’s what Mike Krukow had to say about the swing on the broadcast: “He was quick. Quick to the inside part of the plate. Impressive how he stayed inside this pitch — it’s a breaking ball right there at the belt, both elbows bent through the swing, and he finds the barrel head and just rides it right outta there. When he starts doing that, look out: he’s starting to get hot.”
Johnny Cueto: The series finale puts Johnny Cueto on the mound for his first appearance since Friday’s dazzling masterpiece. In two starts Cueto has already been as valuable, per fWAR, as he was all of last season, and more valuable than in 2018 and 2019 combined. The way he’s pitching right now, he’s must-see TV.
LaMonte Wade Jr. The Giants called up Wade on Sunday after placing reliever Reyes Moronta on the Injured List, and then immediately inserted him into the starting lineup. Given that he responded with a two-hit day — one of which was a double — I think it’s safe to say that we’ll see him manning center field on most days when a right-hander is on the mound, at least for the time being.
Cincy is scheduled to start righties on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Three four Reds to watch
Nick Castellanos: Castellanos is more than just the most popular meme in baseball over the last year. He’s also been one of the hottest hitters in the sport to start the season, with seven extra base hits (including four dingers) in 39 plate appearances, and an OPS of 1.116.
Watch out for him, and watch out for the memes.
Tyler Naquin, Tucker Barnhart, and Mike Moustakas: I’m putting these three together. The Reds have four near-every day players with an OPS exceeding 1.000: Castellanos, and these three (they also have two bench players cracking that mark).
Not only are these three putting up stellar numbers, but they’re also left-handed, and the Giants starting rotation is comprised entirely of righties. So they could add to their sublime stats, which ... just look at them:
Naquin: 36 plate appearances, 5 home runs, 1 double, .290/.389/.806
Barnhart: 23 plate appearances, 1 home run, 4 doubles, .409/.435/.727
Moustakas: 36 plate appearances, 1 home run, 3 doubles, .333/.472/.556
You can also add in Jesse Winker, an outfielder who will probably get a start or two since he’s a lefty, and who is hitting .500/.538/.667 in 13 plate appearances.
Small sample sizes are, by definition, small, but these lefties are doing serious damage.
Who wins the series?
This poll is closed
Giants win 2-1
Reds win 2-1