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Preview, #1: San Francisco Giants @ Arizona Diamondbacks, 4/2

Play ball!

MLB: Spring Training-Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Today's Lineups

Denard Span - CF A.J. Pollock - CF
Brandon Belt - 1B Chris Owings - SS
Hunter Pence - RF Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Buster Posey - C Jake Lamb - 3B
Brandon Crawford - SS Yasmany Tomas - LF
Eduardo Nunez - 3B Brandon Drury - 2B
Jarrett Parker - LF David Peralta - RF
Joe Panik - 2B Jeff Mathis - C
Madison Bumgarner - LHP Zack Greinke - RHP

It’s not often a single game can define a season, but this contest could go a long way to setting the tone for 2017. This is the second Opening Day start for Zack Greinke. Last year, expectations was radically different, much higher - and were cruelly dashed, as the Colorado Rockies scored six times in the third inning, on their way to a 10-5 Opening Day defeat of the Diamondbacks. This season, we’re hoping for better, but Greinke is coming off a spring where his velocity appears to have been troublingly low. Is this figure any more meaningful than any other spring statistic? We’ll get some idea in not much more than an hour, when he takes the mound for Arizona.

He’s working with a new battery-mate in Jeff Mathis. The catcher has almost no bat - his career OPS+ is actually lower than Greinke’s, as mentioned in the line-up post - but has a reputation as an excellent defensive player and pitch-framer. It’ll be interesting to see if that helps Greinke, more than Welington Castillo last year. Perhaps surprisingly, this will be just Zack’s third Opening Day start. Before coming to Arizona, his only other was back in 2010 with the Kansas City Royals. That went better than his debut for Arizona, Greinke tossing six innings and allowing two runs, one earned. But he got a no decision and the Royals lost, so here’s to this being his first OD win.

Beside Mathis, Brandon Drury is the other Diamondback making his first Opening Day start for us, and he’ll have some big shoes to fill, as he seeks to replace reigning SnakePit MVP, Jean Segura. And, look at that: Jake Lamb, starting at third against one of the toughest of tough lefties. [Pro-tip: wrap “Jake Lamb can’t hit lefties” comments in @’s, to indicate sarcasm...] Bumgarner faced Arizona three times last year, going 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA. He had a stellar K:BB ratio of 31:3 over his 22 innings, so the D-backs will need to do better at putting the ball in play. Of our players with more than 5 PA, Goldschmidt (OPS .893) and Tomas (.773) have the best career number vs. MadBum.

Conversely, Greinke saw the Giants four time in 2016, going 2-2 with a 3.28 ERA, and a much less-impressive K:BB ratio of only 15:10 over 24.2 innings. The last two starts, he walked more San Francisco hitters than he struck out, so that’s something to keep an eye on as well. The two starting pitchers today did face each other in one of the contests, on April 20. Greinke won that one, as the Diamondbacks beat the Giants 2-1, thanks to a 7th-inning home-run off the bat of Welington Castillo. But that was a rare victory for Arizona, who went only 6-13 last season against San Francisco, including losses in eight of the last nine games.

Hopefully, that all gets turned around this afternoon. Fox Sports Arizona will be starting their preview show at the same time this gets posted: here’s a schedule of what to expect from that. I’d suggest 12:02pm as a good time to tune in, but perhaps that’s just me...