The lockout resulted in the San Francisco Giants staying home on Opening Day for the first time since 2009. It’s taken until now, their seventh game of the season, to pack their bags and visit someone else’s inferior ballpark.
The Giants are becoming just the third team in MLB history to face the Cleveland Guardians, as the AL Central team has finally eschewed their problematic name and logo. You can still expect the broadcasters to get the name wrong a bit this weekend — old habits die hard. Duane Kuiper, who spent the first eight years of his playing career with Cleveland, got the name wrong a good two or three times during Wednesday’s broadcast before realizing it. So it may take a while.
But what probably won’t take a while is these teams scoring some runs. The Giants offense has been slow out of the gates this year, but they’re confident that they can build on Tuesday’s shellacking of the San Diego Padres, and get back to last year’s dinger-mashing ways. And the Guardians? Well, their offense has been otherworldly, sporting a team wRC+ of 161 on the season ... as a team, Cleveland is essentially hitting like 2021 Juan Soto right now.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Cleveland Guardians
Where: Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio
When: Friday (4:10 p.m. PT), Saturday (3:10 p.m. PT), and Sunday (10:40 a.m. PT)
National broadcasts: None
Friday: Carlos Rodón vs. Zach Plesac
Saturday: Anthony DeSclafani vs. Cal Quantrill
Sunday: Alex Wood vs. Aaron Civale
Where they stand
Record: 4-2, T-1st in the NL West
Run differential: +11, 3rd in the NL
Momentum: 2-game winning streak
Record: 4-2, T-1st in the AL Central
Run differential: +23, 1st in the AL
Momentum: 4-game winning streak
Three Giants to watch
Carlos Rodón: Rodón was as advertised, and so much more in his Giants debut. 12 strikeouts in five innings? A baserunner per inning? Visibly frustrated hitters all game? Until Clayton Kershaw came along with seven perfect innings on Wednesday, Rodón’s performance was pretty clearly the start of the young season. If there’s a person who can slow Cleveland’s bats, it’s Rodón, who gets the nod for the series opener.
Brandon Belt: The Giants offense hasn’t been great out of the gates, but thanks to their outburst on Tuesday, it’s still been an above-average crew, as they’re 13th in the Majors with a 104 wRC+. Belt, despite his extremely truncated preseason, has been the best player in that offense. And with the Guardians going with an all-righty trio in this series, Belt — who is hitting 7-16 with two home runs, a double, and three walks — will be out there all weekend.
Joc Pederson: Three righties also means three starts for Pederson, who probably didn’t expect Wil Myers to be the first person he hit a home run off of as a Giant. Joc has the firepower in his bat to take over in a series, so he could be a big difference maker in this one.
Three Guardians to watch
Steven Kwan, Owen Miller, and José Ramírez: Normally I take players one at a time in this segment. And normally I lean on pitchers, since they determine the matchup for the Giants. But I can’t ignore these three hitters, and need to address them together. There are only four position players in the Majors this year who have put up at least 0.7 fWAR: Kwan (0.7), Miller (0.7) and Ramírez (0.9) are three of those four. Only the Tampa Bay Rays Ji-Man Choi gets in the way of the Guardians having the three most valuable position players through the first week of the season.
You expected this from Ramírez, who has been a top-three MVP finisher three times in his career. You did not expect it from Miller, who was a very bad hitter in his debut season in 2021. And you really, really didn’t expect it from Kwan, who didn’t make his MLB debut until this season.
Look at their season lines. They’re all beyond outstanding, and in different ways, though all have done an incredible job limiting strikeouts.
Ramírez: 12-25, 3 home runs, 1 triple, 3 doubles, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
Miller: 11-21, 2 home runs, 5 doubles, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Kwan: 10-19, 1 triple, 2 doubles, 8 walks, 1 strikeout
Rodón, DeSclafani, and Wood are gonna have their hands full.
Last week 66% of you accurately predicted the Giants winning their series 2-1. Let’s keep the good times rolling.
Who wins the series?
This poll is closed
Giants win 2-1
Guardians win 2-1