San Francisco Giants: After Off Day, Giants Start Long Stretch in April and May

Apr 9, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (15) and catcher Buster Posey (28) talk in the dugout before the baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (15) and catcher Buster Posey (28) talk in the dugout before the baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports /

After their first off day of the year, the San Francisco Giants open a long stretch that begins in April and extends into May.

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The San Francisco Giants had their first off day of the season on Monday, and while fans were undoubtedly antsy to have more baseball in their lives, the rest day was a necessary one for the Giants. Beginning Tuesday, the team begins a stretch of 16 straight days of game action, and 33 games in 34 days.

After winning five of their seven contests in the season’s first week, the Giants found themselves alone atop the National League West division and took Monday to rest, which should be vital to this stretch. Tuesday marks the first day of a six-game road trip that spans two cities before the Giants head back home for a 10-game homestand.

Now into the second week of the season, the Giants would like to start seeing their starting pitchers extend a little deeper into games. Over the first seven games, Giants’ starters pitched into the seventh inning just twice, accomplished both times by new right-hander Johnny Cueto, who finished seven innings in his pair of starts. That extension will be hard to come by in the first series of the stretch, which takes place in the number-one hitter’s park in baseball, Coors Field in Denver, Colorado.

The three-games series will find Jeff Samardzija, Jake Peavy, and Matt Cain taking the mound for the Giants, and they will have to find a way to slow down a Colorado Rockies’ offense that has hit a major league-leading 17 home runs in six games. They also have to find a way to get the Rockies’ 23-year-old rookie shortstop Trevor Story out. Story has set a major league record for home runs in his first six big league games, as seven of his nine hits have left the ballpark. He took reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke deep twice on opening day, and followed with home runs against Shelby Miller and Patrick Corbin, a pair of very solid pitchers in their own right. Not a bad group of pitchers against which to make a name.

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The good news for the Giants is that they are number two in baseball with 14 home runs, and entered Monday with the most runs scored in the league, and will have a great chance to pile on to that mark in their first series in Colorado. As is the usual for games set in the high altitudes of Denver, it should be a slugfest through the entire series.

After the swing in Denver, the Giants head back west to Chavez Ravine, where they’ll be hosted by their big rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, for the first time this year. The Giants took three of four from Los Angeles in San Francisco in their weekend matchup, and their second series is scheduled to begin with Clayton Kershaw v. Madison Bumgarner, again. That matchup never gets old.

Three games will be played at Dodger Stadium, after which the Giants head back home for 10 games, beginning with their first look at the revamped Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona currently is last in the NL West after a week, and hasn’t quite put it together after a busy offseason. The Giants will get a chance to see if Arizona is a legitimate contender this year, or a re-run of the San Diego Padres disaster from last year.

After four games with Arizona, the Giants welcome the Miami Marlins, and old friend Barry Bonds into town. The seven-time NL MVP (five times with the Giants) is in his first season with the Marlins as their hitting coach. When those three games conclude, the actual Padres come to town for three games of their own before the Giants get their second off-day of the season on April 28th.

They then embark on a journey on 17 games in 17 days, including a six-game road trip to open that starts on the east coast. The Giants will play three each with the New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds (where Adam Duvall has pushed his way into the starting lineup). Back home they go for four more with the Rockies and then three games with the Toronto Blue Jays in the Giants’ first interleague matchup of the year. Four more games with Arizona brings the Giants to May 16th, their third day off of the year.

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This early in the year, this isn’t an overly daunting part of the schedule, and the Giants should be well-stocked in the pitching department with eight guys in the bullpen, including starter capable pitcher Chris Heston. After the stretch of 33 games in 34 days, the Giants could probably cut that pitching staff down to seven guys in the bullpen, which they seem very inclined to do at some point in the near future. They could do it earlier than that of course, if the starting pitchers prove they can sufficiently eat innings to the point that the Giants don’t need that extra reliever.