Series Preview: Dodgers Return to face San Francisco Giants
By Nick Vezmar
After winning two consecutive series, the San Francisco Giants look to add another series win onto their resume. They get to do it against the Dodgers, who are visiting AT&T Park for a second time this season. Due to a rain out from the last series, there is a double-header on Saturday. The Giants have the opportunity to win two series on Saturday, provided they win on Friday night.
The San Francisco Giants have a lot to look forward to, as this is their third time facing the Dodgers in the month of April. Brandon Belt is red hot with the power bat, and Buster Posey has rebounded after last week’s struggles. The pitching seems to be holding their own, both rotation and bullpen. The Dodgers are just a step ahead of the Giants right now, and will be looking to maintain and build their lead over them.
Here are the match-ups…
Game One: The (2nd) Ace vs. The Replacement
Step aside, Clayton Kershaw, there’s a new ace in the rotation…for now. Hyun-Jin Ryu won his last three starts, going at least six innings and pitching well in those outings Derek Holland has been serviceable in his starts with the Giants. However, he is not the starter of seasons past, and has struggled at times. He’ll need to get some run support from his guys as he attempts to get his first win of the season.
Joe Panik has a good career line against Ryu, and so has Posey. Andrew McCutchen also has seen a bit of Ryu, and is one of two Giants hitters to get a homerun off him. McCutchen is looking for that offensive spark to get his year going, and this game might bode well for him.
Game Two: Property of April 6th
Don’t mind the time on this one, this is actually the afternoon game and the first of the double-header. Walker Buehler makes his second start of the season, after he fried the Marlins in a 2-1 victory in a no decision bid. Chris Stratton returns from the paternity list on Saturday, and is arguably one of the best starters the Giants have. So really this is a battle of the rookie starters, even though both of them gained considerable experience last season.
The Dodgers have seen Stratton twice this season. The first time, the Giants lost, and the second time they won. Both times Stratton went at least five innings, and both times gave up three runs. The Giants saw Buehler last season as a reliever, and gave up a run in his first appearance against them. Jarrett Parker was the only Giant to get a run off Buehler, although he struggled in both relief apperances.
Look for the right-handed hitters to pounce on Buehler. He has given up the bulk of his hits and runs to righties.
Game Three: The Actual Game Two
Alex Wood held the Giants to one hit in eight innings, and it took a Joe Panik solo shot to give them the win. Since then Wood has looked less than human, including a 7-run rout by the Athletics. Still, he is a formidable rotation arm. Johnny Cueto on the other hand has been lights out, and pitched seven strong; battling it out with none other than Wood. The two will rematch in the second part of a double-header.
For the Giants, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford are the two starters with the better resume against Wood. This is especially important, considering that Crawford is looking to right his ship this season. Other notables include Nick Hundley and Gregor Blanco, who are batting over .400 against Wood. Considering that Bochy might rest some starters for the double-header, this is an important stat to keep in mind.
Game Four: The Dodger Whisperer vs. Not Rich Hill
Despite what the probable pitcher list says (as of 4/25/2018), Kenta Maeda will take the bump on Sunday against Ty Blach. Maeda has pitched twice against the Giants, once in relief and once as a starter. In both appearances, Maeda held the Giants to zero runs. That’s right…zero.
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Since then his ERA jumped three points. Blach continues to have the Dodgers number still, giving up only one run in a combined 11 innings. This should be a fun matchup if everything holds up.
Panik has had the most career success against Maeda, although Blanco has yet to get out against him. Hunter Pence, now spending time on the disabled list, has the only homerun against Maeda. Considering the way this offense has performed as of late, this might be an entirely different outing for Maeda.
The Giants could have a challenge in the first game, so winning that game will be paramount. The Giants are currently 3-3 against the Dodgers, and could easily be 5-5 at the end of the weekend. The double-header should be a lot of fun, and I expect the Giants to take both games.
Derek Holland is my “X Factor” for this series, and the Giants need to continue that offensive momentum. The Giants should do whatever they can to get the starters out of the game, as the Dodgers bullpen is nothing to be afraid of anymore. Needless to say, it should a fun rival weekend in the city!
Next: Three Things From the Nationals Series
Check out the Podcast above with our own Daniel Sperry, as he sits down with Jacob Rudner of dodgersway.com to discuss the series.