I’m not going to write anything poetic about the San Francisco Giants or Opening Day. Because you don’t need anything poetic from me ... you have the poetry of baseball, Giants baseball, back in your lives.
The Giants are kicking off yet another season, and they’re doing so at home for the first time since 2009 (thanks, lockout, for this one tiny little silver lining). But after starting the season with modest expectations the last few years, the Giants suddenly find themselves beginning a campaign with sky-high expectations, both internal and external.
No one is expecting them to win 108 games and set a franchise record for the second-straight season (though they’re welcome to if they’d like). No one is expecting them to smash the projections by 30 wins again.
But they are expected to make the postseason, compete in the NL West, and look the part of a team that can once again capitalize on it being an even year. We won’t find out if that’s who they are during this series. But it’s their first chance to start stating a case.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Miami Marlins
Where: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
When: Friday (1:35 p.m. PT), Saturday (1:05 p.m. PT), and Sunday (1:05 p.m. PT)
National broadcasts: None
Friday: Logan Webb vs. Sandy Alcántara
Saturday: Carlos Rodón vs. Pablo López
Sunday: Anthony DeSclafani vs. Trevor Rogers
Three Giants to watch
Logan Webb: Imagine a year ago if someone told you that Webb would be the 2022 Opening Day starter for a Giants team that was expected to make the postseason, and that was widely considered to have one of the best rotations in the Majors. Webb was so good in his breakout 2021 that I’ve seen his name on preseason Cy Young predictions more than any other NL pitcher save for Walker Buehler and Max Scherzer. He’ll set the tone on Friday, and regardless of how he and the Giants do, it’s a testament to a 2021 worth celebrating that he’ll be on the mound.
Carlos Rodón: Giants fans will get their introduction to the team’s biggest free agent signing of the offseason on Saturday when Rodón — who takes Kevin Gausman’s spot as co-ace with Webb — makes his San Francisco debut. Rodón emerged as one of the best pitchers in baseball a year ago, finishing fifth in AL Cy Young voting despite pitching just 132.2 innings. His health is the season-long story worth watching, but on Saturday, his ability to dominate hitters — he had 186 strikeouts to 35 walks last year in, again, just 132.2 innings — will be must-see TV.
Brandon Belt: The Giants offense, shockingly one of the best in the Majors a year ago, is gonna have some work to do if they want to start the season on a high note. Evan Longoria and LaMonte Wade Jr., two standout hitters from last season, begin the year on the Injured List. Tommy La Stella, a vital left-handed bat in a series where the Giants face two righties, is also on the IL. And Buster Posey, fresh off one of the best offensive seasons of his career, has retired and been replaced by someone who has struck out in 36.8% of his career plate appearances. Belt is the team’s best hitter, but due to maladies of his own, only got to play three preseason games, and went hitless in nine plate appearances. It’s a tall task to ask him to be in midseason form on Opening Day, but it sure would help the Giants quite a lot.
Three Marlins to watch
Sandy Alcántara: The fun part of Opening Day is that the Giants get to use their best pitchers in the series ... and know that their opponent will do the same. That starts with Alcántara, who takes the mound for Game No. 1. The righty is coming off a lovely year in which he posted a 3.19 ERA and 3.42 FIP while doing something not many people did last year: exceed 200 innings pitched. He’s not as overpowering as some modern pitchers, as he had less than a strikeout per inning last season, but he does an excellent job limiting hard contact. His WHIP last year was a reliever-esque 1.075, and he allowed just 0.9 home runs per nine innings.
Jazz Chisholm Jr.: Chisholm hasn’t quite put it all together the way some expected after he was a top prospect in Miami’s system. But he only recently turned 24, and has already shown plus-power (for a middle infielder), and strong defense and baserunning. Despite being a below-average hitter in 2021 (98 wRC+), he was worth 1.6 fWAR, which is a testament to his all-around game. He feels like a lock to join the 20-20 club this year, and could even have a shot at 30-30. This could very well be the year he emerges as a star.
Trevor Rogers: Rogers might technically be given No. 3 starter status, but he was comfortably Miami’s best pitcher a year ago, when he matched Alcántara’s 4.2 fWAR in 72.2 fewer innings. He had a 2.64 ERA, a 2.55 FIP, and 10.62 strikeouts per nine innings ... and was just 23 years old. The Giants ability to hit lefties without Longoria or Posey is going to be tested in a huge way on Sunday.
Who wins the series?
This poll is closed
Giants win 2-1
Marlins win 2-1