Despite what we expected entering the season, the Giants are playing well enough that splitting a series, even on the road, feels like a bummer. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that going .500 on road trips is still a pretty decent formula.
Split four games with the Washington Nationals and the Giants will be treading water before heading home for seven straight games. But winning this series, and taking the road trip would be a great way to keep a magical season going.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals
Where: Nationals Park, Washington D.C.
When: Thursday (4:05 p.m.), Friday (4:05 p.m.), Saturday (4:15 p.m.), and Sunday (10:05 a.m.)
National broadcasts: Saturday (Fox)
Where they stand
San Francisco Giants
Record: 38-23, 1st in the NL West
Run differential: +74, 2nd in the NL
Postseason standing: 1st seed
Momentum: 1-game losing streak, 7-3 in their last 10 games
Record: 25-33, 4th in the NL East
Run differential: -31, 12th in the NL
Postseason standing: 7 games out of the NL East, 9 games out of the Wild Card
Momentum: 1-game winning streak, 4-6 in their last 10 games
Three Giants to watch
Mike Yastrzemski: Yastrzemski is likely to return over the weekend, and how nice that would be for the Giants, especially since Alex Dickerson is now on the Injured List. The Giants could use Yaz’s bat at the top of the lineup but, to be honest, I mostly just miss watching the guy play.
LaMonte Wade Jr. With or without Yastrzemski, it looks like Wade is going to be a part of the lineup for a while, and so far the results have been awesome. The sample size is small (54 plate appearances), but Wade’s hitting .283/.389/.500. Most importantly, he seems to be putting up Giantsy at-bats — he’s working counts, waiting for the right pitch, and making life difficult on opposing pitchers and defenses. Every game is a data point as to whether Wade can be a long-term contributor in the Bay Area.
Johnny Cueto: Cueto has shown some signs of returning to his pre-injury state, and his peripherals still look pretty darn good. But the last few games have been rough — most recent was a game against the Chicago Cubs in which Cueto gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs (3 earned) in 4.1 innings, while spending most of the game laboring through stressful situations. He pitches Saturday, and it sure would be nice to see him have a great game.
Three Nats to watch
Max Scherzer: Scherzer may have relinquished his “best pitcher in the NL” spot to Jacob DeGrom, but he still remains one of the very best in the league. He’ll pitch the series opener and enters the game with a WHIP of 0.818, and a league-leading 104 strikeouts in 77 innings. Those are slightly terrifying numbers.
Jon Lester: I’m mostly putting Lester here so that you can be informed that he’s on the Nationals, which I keep forgetting. I’m probably getting repetitive with these previews, because I keep targeting opposing pitchers who give up a lot of walks. What can I say, they’re people to keep your eye on, because we all know what the Giants hitters are trying to exploit. So far Lester has issued 16 walks in just 38.2 innings. If the Giants can take advantage of that ... and then have some fun on the basepaths ... they could have a whole bunch of success.
Juan Soto: Soto was my preseason pick for MVP, which wasn’t exactly a bold choice after a 2020 season in which he led the NL in batting average, and led the Majors in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+, all while being just 21. He’s regressed quite a bit this year, as his line has fallen from a Bonds-esque .351/.490/.695 a year ago (in a 60-game season, admittedly) to a more traditional star-level .279/.412/.461. But he’s started to find his groove lately: in the last 9 games, the lefty is hitting 10-30 with 4 home runs, and 11 walks to 10 strikeouts. Two words for Giants pitchers: watch out.
Who wins the series?
This poll is closed
Giants win 3-1
Nats win 3-1