The San Francisco Giants have found a way to reinvent themselves without substantially changing their World Series winning rosters of 2010 and 2012. Those teams were known for their lights-out pitching, just-good-enough hitting, and copious amounts of luck (he writes while weeping silently to himself, sacrificing chickens to a chalk outline of Troy Tulowitzki's quadriceps scrawled on his cave wall).
But the San Francisco Giants of 2014 boast a different complexion, despite being largely the same players: this team can hit (as Duane Kuiper would say). Regulars Angel Pagan, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Michael Morse, and Brandon Crawford are off to excellent starts to their seasons. Pagan is getting on base nearly half the time, Belt is leading the Majors in home runs, Posey is the best hitting catcher in the league, etc etc. Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence haven't even started hitting yet, but the Giants boast a team wRC+ of 119, third in baseball (the Rockies are second).
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The team's pitching, though, is dicier than it has been in a while. True, Madison Bumgarner is a total stud, and Tim Hudson was a very smart pick up; both guys have ERAs under 2 through two starts. But fellow starters Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Ryan Vogelsong are all coming off down 2013's, and neither has started well in the new season. Lincecum's Cy Young seasons are receding further and further into the past, Cain's low BABIP and home run suppression are regressing to the mean, and Vogelsong might finally be realizing he was terrible for 10 years.
The Giants' team ERA is 3.87, 17th in the Majors. That certainly beats the Rockies' 5.38, but when you adjust for the ballparks the teams play in, the difference isn't so big. It's true that any of their starters is capable of shutting a team down on any given day, but they have also never been so vulnerable. Except for Bumgarner. Man, that guy's good.
Unfortunately, the Rockies are missing the Giants' two shakiest starters, Lincecum and Vogelsong. Instead they'll be running into the buzz-saw of Bumgarner, Cain, and Hudson. Those guys are all tough, particularly at home -- and particularly against the Rockies.
At this point in the season, going into a park in which they have always struggled, I'd be happy if the Rockies win one out of three. The Rocks are sending their top arms to the hill in this series: Jorge De La Rosa, Brett Anderson, and the debut of Tyler Chatwood. Thus begins an early season test that could indicate whether this team is going to make some noise.
Game 1: Friday, April 11 at 8:15 p.m. MT (ROOT Sports)
De La Rosa vs. Bumgarner
Game 2: Saturday, April 12 at 2:05 p.m. MT (ROOT Sports, MLB Network)
Anderson vs. Cain
Game 3: Sunday, April 13 at 2:05 p.m. MT (ROOT Sports)
Chatwood vs. Hudson