San Francisco Giants (0-0) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (0-0)
Finally! Baseball is back! I am pumped about this series, mostly just because baseball is finally returning, but also because this will be a good test to see just how ready the Dbacks are, playing the defending World Champs and all. So, let us begin...
The Giants are without Hunter Pence, who broke his forearm on March 5. He will be back in a couple of weeks. Centerfielder Angel Pagan's status is also up in the air, as he has been experiencing some back spasms. He returned to Cactus League action on March 25 though, so he should be good to go.
Diamondbacks' catcher Oscar Hernandez will start off the season on the DL with a hamate bone fracture in his left hand. Reliever Matt Stites is also expected to miss this series, with soreness in his right arm.
The Diamondbacks offense, as you probably know, is filled with question marks. The only sure things we have are Goldy and Pollock, and everybody else is a toss up. Will Trumbo find his power? Will Owings' shoulder continue to bother him? How will left field do? Can Nick Ahmed hit? We're about to find out the answer to these questions. I'm predicting that this offense fares well this series, mostly due to the fact that beyond Bumgarner, everyone in the rotation has big red flags.
Looking at the Giants lineup, there isn't a whole lot that scares me. I've heard that they have a catcher who is pretty good, by the name of Buster Posey, but that's where my fear stops. The losses of their two big power bats to free agency (Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse), and the loss of Hunter Pence to injury certainly didn't help them in the home run department, and I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't hit one out over the course of these three games. The Giants will need to accumulate a lot of hits from the likes of second baseman Joe Panik (2014 OBP of .343), third baseman Casey McGehee (2014 OBP of .355) and many others to have a chance in this series.
Both 'pens are at full strength, as this is the first game of the season.
Game 1: Josh Collmenter, RHP (2014 stats: 11-9, 3.46 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) vs Madison Bumgarner, LHP (2014 stats: 18-10, 2.98 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)
Mad Bum had a huge 2014 season, leading the Giants to their third world series title in 5 years. Jerk. His heroics late in the season and in the postseason led to people throwing his name around with a certain Dodgers pitcher. The good news for Dbacks fans is that April was his 2nd worst month last month, where he posted a 3.74 ERA. That's about the only good news I can give you. The fact is, this guy is good, really good. Josh Collmenter on the other hand, while good, is not Madison Bumgarner. Last year Josh was one of the Dbacks biggest surprises, going from long reliever to the top of the rotation. He features a cut fastball hovering around 87 MPH, a nasty changeup, and a curve which is still developing. The fact he is a fly ball pitcher should help him against the Giants, as they don't have anyone with much power. I'm expecting a pitching duel in this one.
Game 2: Rubby de la Rosa, RHP (2014 stats: 4-8, 4.43 ERA, 1.49 WHIP) vs Ryan Vogelsong, RHP (2014 stats: 8-13, 4.00 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)
de la Rosa is one of the most unpredictable guys out there. He's got some great stuff, with a fastball which can get into the mid-high 90s, a slider, and a changeup. His problem throughout the years has been control, with a 3.1 walks per 9 innings last year. If he can throw his pitches accurately, the Giants should have a hard time getting anything going. If he's wild, this will be a walk fest. Vogelsong was very meh last year. He went out there, ate up some innings, but was nothing special. He was actually supposed to start the year in the bullpen, but due to some injuries he moved into the 2 spot. Don't expect much from him.
Game 3: Jeremy Hellickson, RHP (2014 stats: 1-5, 4.52 ERA, 1.45 WHIP) vs TBD
Hellickson is coming off a rough 2014. He missed the first 91 games due to elbow surgery, and was terrible in 13 starts after returning. His primary pitches are his fastball, which hovers around 90 MPH, and his changeup. If he is not locating his pitches well, this will be a long game. As with game 2, there is nobody currently listed to pitch for the Giants.
For the Dbacks, you could make the case for many guys as the x-factor. For this series, I'd say it's Mark Trumbo. This is mainly because of his great power. Sorry in advance for using this cliche, but he has the ability to change a game with one swing. The guy can rake.
I'm gonna go with Brandon Belt as the Giants' x-factor. Other than Posey, he is pretty much the only guy with any pop in his bat. In fact, Belt and Posey are the only guys on the Giants roster who hit 10 homers last year. He will need to find that pop, or else this series could consist of very few runs for the Giants.
The Dbacks start off the season right and take 2 of 3 from the Giants. The Giants score a total of 8 runs or less this series.