San Francisco Giants Return Home to Face Red Hot Reds

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 13: Gorkys Hernandez #7 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates his solo home run with teammates during the sixth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 13, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 13: Gorkys Hernandez #7 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates his solo home run with teammates during the sixth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 13, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco Giants easily had one of the most mind-boggling road trips in recent memory. After sweeping one of the top teams in the NL East, they got swept and salvaged one win from their last series in Pittsburgh.

The San Francisco Giants have found all kind of different ways to drop games on this road trip, and it will be an uphill battle to turn it all around.

The Giants are in need of some home cooking and a day of rest. After a long flight home, they will  play another seven games at home, before getting a day off. Their first series is against the Reds, who are lead by slugging second baseman Scooter Gennett.

These next few games provide another challenge to the Giants, as the Reds are currently riding a six game winning streak that saw them take down the Mets and Dodgers. The Giants are seeing two starters they have never seen before, which may not work in their favor. Still, this is a series that may totally surprise us.

Game One: Stratton vs. Romano

In the tale of two pitchers, Sal Romano has settled into his last couple of starts, and Chris Stratton has floundered in his last few starts.

Romano pitched two consecutive one-run starts, earning his second win of the season against the Marlins in one of them. The stats don’t lie though, he has not been entirely effective. Romano puts a lot of balls in play, and almost 15% of his fly balls are home runs.

The one positive is that Romano is riding a BABIP of .238, an improvement from last year’s number, which ranks 18th among starting pitchers. Andrew McCutchen is the only hitter in the lineup who has seen Romano, and he has two hits in nine at-bats against him with two RBI.

Stratton has not had the same fortune as of late. After his win against the Nationals on April 23rd, his ERA has skyrocketed two points. Stratton is also having some trouble getting past the sixth inning. You could call it exhaustion, added pressure or inexperience; but the guy that looked like he was going to shore up the bottom end of the rotation is showing signs of weakness.

He has given up one home run in each of his last three starts, including two in his win against Atlanta. This is the first time Stratton is facing the Reds lineup, with the exception of Scooter Gennett, who does not have a batting average against him.

Game Two: Blach vs. Mahle

Tyler Mahle has only faced one Giant, and you guessed it, it’s McCutchen again (1-for-6, 1 RBI). Although he appears to be improving this season, the most concerning thing about his game is his walk totals. This was also a big concern during his call-up to the Reds last season. This season, nearly 9% of his plate appearances result in walks.

After pairing up two quality starts, Ty Blach gave up a stinker in Philadelphia. Unlike his opponent, Blach’s biggest problem is that he is giving up too many hits for balls put into play. Even in his start against the Braves, he still gave up seven hits in 7 2/3 innings. He is averaging about one hit for every three balls put into play.

One guy who knows a lot about getting hits off of Blach is Billy Hamilton. The Reds’ speedy outfielder has five hits in six at-bats against Blach, including a double and a triple. Adam Duvall has three hits in six at-bats with one home run as well.

Game Three: Suarez vs. Harvey

In the last game of the series, the Giants will see Matt Harvey, but not in a Mets uniform. Two years ago, this would be a game I’d guarantee as a tough time for the Giants.

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Nowadays, Harvey is not scaring anybody, except maybe the guy who does his public relations work. Harvey was removed from a starting role, and then ultimately was relegated to bullpen duty before being traded to the Reds.

In his first start with the Reds, he threw 55 pitches in four innings, while only giving up one hit. Considering his body of work this season, that was an impressive start. Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey have a decent resumé against Harvey, although we may not see Posey in the day-after-night game. Hot-hitting Nick Hundley has two hits in seven at-bats against Harvey, so that should be a welcome substitution.

Andrew Suarez has never seen the Reds before, and this will be an interesting challenge for him.

Against lefties, the Reds have slightly higher numbers, but where they really shine is in slugging percentage vs. lefties.

Suarez is no stranger to the long ball as he gave up two home runs to the Phillies in his last start.

This will be a good opportunity for Suarez to pick it up and try to get his second win of the season. The Reds have their lowest offensive numbers in day games, which should work in his favor.

Who will emerge victorious?

The Giants played a lot of mistake-laden baseball in Philadelphia, and cleaned it up a bit in Pittsburgh. The problem still remains that the starting rotation is struggling. After learning that Johnny Cueto likely won’t return for 6 to 8 weeks, they received some welcome news that Madison Bumgarner could start his rehab assignment very soon. However, they cannot rely on one guy to fix all their problems.

Next: Why the Giants Are Just Fine Despite Disappointing Road Trip

A jolt was needed for this offense as well, and they got that on Saturday and Sunday. The Giants need to keep that offensive momentum going into this home series. With the momentum going for the Reds right now, this could be a big challenge for the Giants.

The good thing about the recent struggles is that the Giants did not lose much ground in the NL West. However, they cannot let other teams do their work for them. I cannot imagine the Giants letting the Reds roll into town and pummel over them.