The San Francisco Giants were supposed to start the season on March 31 against the San Diego Padres. Instead, it’s the fourth game of the season — and at home, instead of on the road — when the Giants get to first square off with their other SoCal rivals.
This will never be a rivalry the way it is with the Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, but you could argue that the Padres are the most important opponent for the Giants.
San Francisco probably won’t win the NL West again, though they should absolutely try, and it would be amazing theater if they did. But you can try to do two things at once, and so the Giants should try to beat the Dodgers, yes, but they should really try to beat the Padres, which is a more attainable goal.
Because if the Giants finish ahead of the Padres in the standings, then one of two things will happen: the Giants will be in the postseason, or things will have gone amazingly, specularly, hilariously wrong for both teams.
Mind you, the Giants can finish behind the Padres and still make the postseason. Most projection systems probably have three NL West teams populating the expanded postseason bracket. But the Padres make for a good measuring stick. Get ahead of them, and the playoffs await.
Today seems like a good day to start doing that.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. San Diego Padres
Where: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
When: Monday (6:45 p.m. PT), Tuesday (6:45 p.m. PT), and Wednesday (12:45 p.m. PT)
National broadcasts: Monday (MLB Network, out of market only), Tuesday (TBS, out of market only), and Wednesday (MLB Network, out of market only)
Monday: Alex Wood vs. Nick Martinez
Tuesday: Alex Cobb vs. Yu Darvish
Wednesday: Logan Webb vs. Sean Manaea
Where they stand
San Francisco Giants
Record: 2-1, T-2nd in the NL West
Run differential: +1, 8th in the NL
Momentum: 1-game winning streak
San Diego Padres
Record: 3-1, 1st in the NL West
Run differential: +9, T-2nd in the NL
Momentum: 3-game winning streak
Three Giants to watch
Heliot Ramos: Ramos got a shocking call up for Sunday’s game and absolutely shined, hitting two singles and easily scoring from first on a double down the left field line. It’s unclear if he’s going to stick on the roster or if he’ll get optioned once John Brebbia returns from the Bereavement List, but between pinch hitting, defensive replacements, and the Padres starting a lefty on Wednesday, we should see a bit of the riveting rookie vs. San Diego.
Alex Cobb: Cobb makes his Giants debut on Tuesday, and it’s probably not getting the hype that it should. So here’s a reminder as to what he did last season: 3.76 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 98 strikeouts, and 33 walks in 93.1 innings. The concern with Cobb is if he can stay on the field, not how he’ll do once he’s on there. He’ll be there on Tuesday ... so get excited.
Brandon Crawford: DJ BC Raw was slow out of the gates in the opening series, hitting just 1-11 with a walk and two strikeouts, and not getting too many opportunities to flash his Gold Glove leather. One rough series should have zero impact on our evaluation or expectation for last year’s fourth-place MVP finisher, but Crawford catching fire this series would be a lovely sight.
Three Padres to watch
Yu Darvish: It’s hard to believe that Darvish didn’t come over to the National League until midway through the 2017 season, because it feels like he’s been facing the Giants for ages. And while in my head he’s been carving them up, the Giants have actually gotten the better of Darvish, as he has a 5.40 ERA against San Francisco, and has allowed 12 home runs in 40 innings. More of that, Giants!
Sean Manaea: Manaea, a lefty pitcher, becomes the latest exciting Oakland A’s player to get shipped off so that the A’s can return to their mission and focus on being both cheap and bad. His Padres introduction was magnificent, as he hurled seven no-hit innings with just one walk, while striking out seven, which is a good performance even when you account for the fact that he was facing the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Jurickson Profar: With Fernando Tatis Jr. injured, the Padres are looking for some position player to step up and star alongside Manny Machado. So far Profar has taken the assignment very seriously, hitting 4-10 with two home runs, three walks, and six runs batted in through the opening weekend. He’s a switch hitter, so he’ll be quite a weapon every time he comes to the plate.
Last week 69% of you successfully predicted the 2-1 series against the Miami Marlins. Nice.
Who wins the series?
This poll is closed
Giants win 2-1
Padres win 2-1