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Series Preview: San Francisco Giants

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The Reds welcome the Giants (11-18) to Great American Ball Park for a three-game series starting on Friday night.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Reds come into this weekend series with the Giants having won their last two games. That has put the team back at .500 and two games back of the division-leading Cubs. The Giants (11-18) are in last in the NL West (it is an odd numbered year after all), and they currently sport the worst record in the NL. San Francisco is 5-5 in their last 10 games, but they've struggled on the road this season (5-10).

Last Season and What's Ahead

In one of baseball's biggest surprises, the Giants didn't win the World Series in an even-numbered year in 2016. They did go 87-75, which was good enough for a Wild Card spot. San Francisco knocked off the Mets, thanks to a complete game shutout from Madison Bumgarner, to advance to the NLDS. Unfortunately for the Giants, their run ended at the hands of the Cubs (and an atrocious performance from the bullpen).

Baseball Prospectus projects the Giants to go 71-62 the rest of the way. FanGraphs has San Francisco going 68-65 in their remaining games.

I Miss You

Notable New Faces

Mark Melancon - San Francisco signed Melancon to a four-year, $62 million deal in December.

Nick Hundley - Hundley was signed to a one-year, $2 million deal. He's serving as the backup catcher to Buster Posey.

Drew Stubbs - Stubbs has appeared in nine games for the Giants after starting the season in the minors. This is a good excuse to post a Drew Stubbs highlight from his time in Cincinnati.

Fare Thee Well

Gregor Blanco

Santiago Casilla

Chris Heston

Angel Pagan

Jake Peavy

Sergio Romo

Jay Jaffe has a full breakdown of the Giants offseason here.

The Lineup with 2017 statistics

Gorkys Hernandez - CF
.182/.250/.227, 0 HR, 4 R, 6 RBI, 1 SB

Brandon Belt - 1B
.260/.393/.470, 4 HR, 14 R, 14 RBI, 1 SB

Hunter Pence - RF
.271/.325/.364, 2 HR, 11 R, 13 RBI, 0 SB

Buster Posey - C
.346/.420/.449, 2 HR, 8 R, 5 RBI, 0 SB

Christian Arroyo - 3B
.238/.256/.381, 2 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI, 0 SB

Eduardo Nunez - SS
.257/.282/.314, 0 HR, 9 R, 6 RBI, 7 SB

Joe Panik - 2B
.305/.370/.411, 1 HR, 13 R, 9 RBI, 1 SB

The Giants have dealt with a few key injuries in the starting lineup (see below). Some combination of Michael Morse, Drew Stubbs, Connor Gillaspie, and/or Kelby Tomlinson will be used to fill out the lineup.

Injuries

Brandon Crawford: Crawford hit the 10-day DL on April 29 with a groin injury. He hopes to return when eligible.

Denard Span: Span has been on the DL with a sprained right shoulder.

Madison Bumgarner: Bumgarner is expected to miss three months due to a shoulder strain after a bike accident.

The Pitchers (for this series)

Matt Cain (vs. Bronson Arroyo) - Friday at 6:40

The 32-year-old Cain is off to a hot start this season, and I'm not really sure why. So far, he's tallied a 2-0 record with a 2.30 ERA in 27.1 innings of work. However, a glance at Cain's stats doesn't really offer an explanation for the success. A few reasons could be: he's been lucky so far, his GB% is up slightly, he's getting more swings and misses out of the strike zone, he's cut his HR/FB rate in half, and he's being helped by a .253 BABIP. To be fair, Cain has historically generated a lower than average BABIP (career mark .268).

None of these changes are dramatic, and you'd expect at some point his results will change. His fastball now averages 89 mph, and his 3.85 FIP/5.11 DRA suggests that he hasn't been nearly as good as his ERA indicates. The Reds could have some success here.

Oh, by the way:

Ty Blach (vs. Amir Garrett) - Saturday at 7:10

Blach opened the season in the bullpen, but he got moved to the rotation following Madison Bumgarner's injury. He's given up 2 ER over 12 innings in his first two starts for San Francisco. Devan Fink wrote a helpful profile of Blach for Beyond the Box Score. He's a low-strikeout pitcher who generally relies on ground balls to get outs.

Johnny Cueto (vs. Scott Feldman) - Sunday at 4:10

Cueto's had a rough start to the 2017 season. His record looks good (4-1), but it has come with a 4.86 ERA. A major part of his problem is that his HR/FB rate has nearly doubled from last season. Also, Cueto has been dealing with a blister issue on the middle finger of his pitching hand. However, Cueto has decided to pitch through the problem according to Henry Schulman.

Seriously, I Miss You So Much

Prediction

The Reds take two out of three.