The San Francisco Giants kick of their 2014 campaign in Arizona against their division rival Diamondbacks on Monday night. Both teams are looking to rebound off of subpar 2013 seasons in which neither team reached the postseason. With all the offseason talk surrounding last year’s division winning Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants and D’backs feel that they have something to prove.
For the Giants, left-hander Madison Bumgarner will take the hill. Coming off of a 13-9, 2.77 ERA, 199 strikeout season, Bumgarner is the Giants number one starter for the first time in his career. The 2013 All-Star is looking to join baseball’s elite pitchers this season. At just 24 years of age, Bumgarner already has 49 wins, a lifetime 3.08 ERA, 677 strikeouts, an All-Star appearance and most importantly, two world series rings.
Brandon McCarthy will be manning the mound for the D’backs. McCarthy, who struggled with a handful of injuries last year, went 5-11 with a 4.53 ERA. He’s hoping to have a bounce back season as Arizona’s number three starter. Trevor Cahill and Wade Miley are the Diamondbacks top two pitchers, but with the strange opening two-game series with the Dodgers in Australia last week, both pitchers already threw.
The Giants had a tough time scoring last season, but a big boost for them will be a healthy Angel Pagan at the top of the lineup. Pagan was the engine that sparked San Francisco all season long during their 2012 championship campaign but missed a majority of last season with a torn left hamstring. A lot of this season’s success will be based on whether or not the Giants center fielder can remain healthy.
Giants captain Buster Posey is looking to have another big season. The 2012 league MVP had a dip in production last year as fatigue had clearly set in by the second half. But this year he is fresh and ready to lead the Giants to another deep playoff run after last year’s disappointing season. “There’s a bad taste in everybody’s mouths,” Posey stated.
As for Arizona, their offense is lead by 2013 National League home run and RBI leader Paul Goldschmidt. The fourth year, 26-year old finished second in the NL MVP race last season, falling just short of the prestigious award to Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Goldschmidt hit .302 with 36 homers and 125 RBI’s last year and many people believe that he was robbed of the MVP award. The San Francisco pitching staff knows all too well of Goldschmidt’s success against them.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy does not expect Arizona to have any traces of a hangover from last week’s Australia series with the Dodgers. “They’ve had time to recuperate and recover. That’s what they made sure of when they made they made this trip that they could come back. I don’t see any difference playing them after going to Australia.”
Speaking of hangovers, the Giants are happy to have finally shaken off one of their own after last season’s year-long championship hangover. Winners of both the 2010 and 2012 World Series, the city of San Francisco is looking to continue the tradition of even year titles. But in a top heavy NL West, that will be no easy task.
Commentary by Rich Peters