The Rundown’s Friday MLB Bet: Are Giants Scuffling at Wrong Time?
Norm Hall/Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Gausman #34 of the San Francisco Giants.
What a treat this series is going to be. The Giants — owners of the best record in baseball and winners in their last five games — come to Atlanta to face the Braves, who had won nine games in a row before dropping two to the scorching hot Yankees earlier this week. Depending on how things shake out in the National League postseason, this is a potential preview of the NLCS … though various absences on one side are tempering the full potential for this first game at least.
San Francisco comes into this contest missing several key cogs to their winning machine. Evan Longoria continues to miss time with a hand injury, while Brandon Belt and Donovan Solano recently landed on the bereavement and COVID lists, respectively. They will all miss Friday’s game at minimum, which will test the Giants’ depth in the infield.
But perhaps most concerning is their situation behind the plate. Buster Posey, in the midst of a renaissance season, went down with a knee injury on Tuesday and has not returned to the lineup yet. His backup, Curt Casali, had been playing in his stead, but had to be removed from Thursday’s game after taking a foul ball to the mask. Both of their statuses are up in the air headed into Friday’s contest.
If neither can go, it will be Chadwick Tromp taking over catching duties. The 26-year-old has been unimpressive in limited action this season, hitting .222 with just two RBI on one home run.
But as we know, most catchers aren’t expected to showcase their hitting prowess; they’re mainly there to call games and be elite fielders. Obviously, we can’t attribute it all to Tromp, but it’s definitely worth noting that the Giants have lost three of the four games he’s started this season — one to the lowly Rangers, and two to the Cardinals, both on the road and at home.
Tromp’s game-calling wouldn’t be as much of a concern if SF starter Kevin Gausman was in better form. The former Brave shows a 5.17 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, and very alarming 4.6 BB/9 over his last seven starts. For what it’s worth, he’s returning to action from the COVID list after having some side effects from the vaccine.
On the flip side, Atlanta starter Max Fried is in tremendous form after a bad start to the season. The 27-year-old has allowed just two runs and has a 0.81 WHIP over his last four starts, the most recent of which was a complete-game shutout in Baltimore.
Normally, we wouldn’t want to mess with the Giants’ elite bullpen against the Braves’ mediocre one, but San Francisco has used theirs a lot over the last couple of games. Tyler Rogers in particular, who has been outstanding lately, likely won’t be available after pitching the last two nights in a row.
By contrast, Atlanta hasn’t played since Tuesday, so their pen will be fully rested and available. As a matter of fact, the entire team has now had time to rest and recover at home, giving them a chance to simmer down after those disappointing losses to New York.
The Braves need this win more than the Giants do. They’ll be more rested and prepared, and should emerge victorious against one of the National League’s elite.
Pick: Braves -120