The first weekend of the MLB season concludes with a Sunday night game on national television between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Giants surprisingly won the first two games 1-0, only to see the Dodgers return the favor with a 5-0 win Saturday night. Los Angeles is now favored by -185 to win Sunday’s game and even up the series.
The Giants began the season reeling in the injury department with both Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija on the DL. However, both Ty Blach and Johnny Cueto both gave the Giants excellent performances, as did the San Francisco bullpen.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, have also received excellent performances from their pitchers during the opening series. After all, in three games, the Giants have only scored two runs. However, the Los Angeles lineup has been slow to get going despite scoring five runs on Saturday night.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants hope they continue to be pleasantly surprised by good pitching performances when Chris Stratton takes the mound Sunday night. Stratton has just 10 career big league starts, all of which came last year. In just 68.2 career innings, Stratton owns a 3.67 ERA, so he has shown promise early in his big league career.
Stratton started a game at Dodger Stadium last September but lasted just four innings and took the loss. Yasmani Grandal homered in that game, and since he’s been one of the few Dodgers to do anything offensively early in the season, he’s someone to watch closely on Sunday night. The Dodgers will also be hoping that some of their top players, most notably Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, and Yasiel Puig can get their first hit of the season.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers will counter with Rich Hill. The 38-year old southpaw made 25 starts last season, which was the second-highest total in his injury-plagued career. In those 25 starts, Hill went 12-8 with a 3.32 ERA, so he’s still pitching at a high level as he pushes 40. Despite a rough spring, there’s no reason for the Dodgers to worry about Hill’s performance in 2018.
However, Hill has had some trouble against a few of the hitters in San Francisco’s lineup. Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Buster Posey have all done damage against Hill. That trio is combined 15 for 34 (.441) against Hill in their careers. Joe Panik is also off to a hot start this season, going 5 for 12 with two home runs in the first three games of the series.
Who Wins the Series?
San Francisco has started the season far better than expected. But their offensive troubles outside of Panik should not be overlooked. Against a quality pitcher like Hill, don’t expect the Giants to score too many runs. The Dodgers are too good to drop three out of four to start the season, especially against a Giants team that’s relied a lot on their bullpen the past three games. The smart money is on the Dodgers to win on Sunday night.