Kris Bryant has been a wonderful addition to the Giants so far, but I think this is the week he truly plants his flag in San Francisco.
In his 52 at-bats with the Giants, he’s slashing .288/.351/.442 — really good numbers. But there’s another level the erstwhile Chicago Cub can reach. He’s going to go there this week.
The honeymoon in the Bay is not quite over yet, folks.
What makes me think this? Well, Bryant has been hitting the ball hard as of late, but has run into some bad luck. His 110 mile-per-hour lineout to #ForeverGiant Connor Joe Saturday showed how deep the snake’s bite was.
But you can’t keep a hitter smacking the ball that hard down for long.
I’m betting on those smoke shows going over the fence in the coming days. He’s beyond due. And when the week is done, I think we’ll remember it as the week that Bryant was en fuego.
Here’s a more concrete prediction: Bryant doubles his San Francisco home-run total this week and carries the Giants’ offense in series against the Mets and A’s.
Nsimba Webster makes the most of his chance
The Niners’ wide receivers and overall special teams were dreary in the team’s preseason opener.
Nsimba Webster can solve both problems.
This week is the former Ram’s chance to make this squad. The poor play of Richie James against the Chiefs Saturday unofficially opened up a job on this team — James cannot be considered a roster lock anymore — and Webster, with some nice play late in that preseason game, seems to have the inside track at James’ old role.
On special teams, Webster is a known entity. He’s a solid returner — yes, the Niners could do better, but that would require putting Brandon Aiyuk out on special teams. I don’t think Kyle Shanahan wants to do that.
But in order for the Niners to justify having Webster as the team’s ace returner, he needs to show that he can be a viable pass-catcher in the Niners’ offense.
Thursday and Friday are the biggest days of the preseason for the Niners. Shanahan loves joint practices — he prefers them to preseason games 10 times over (and that might be an underrepresentation). So performances in scrimmages and such against the Chargers at the end of the week in Orange County will likely prove to be make-or-break for fringe Niners players.
Webster seemed up for the moment on Saturday. I’m betting by the time this Saturday rolls around, he’ll have supplanted James on the Niners’ depth chart.
The A’s win the Battle of the Bay
It’s been 31 years since the Battle of the Bay World Series. I wouldn’t place a wager on it returning this season, but it is possible, and that allows us to say this week that the Giants-A’s series could be a World Series preview.
Man, isn’t that a cool sentence?
The Giants claimed the first series between the two teams in June and I think the home team takes the second go-around at the Coliseum, bringing the series to a 3-3 tie.
I went back-and-forth on this, and I expect the games to follow suit, but I like the A’s starting just a bit better than the Giants’ in this series.
The probables are not out — I don’t expect that to change given the way the Giants treat their starting pitching plans like Cold War secrets — but I’d expect Alex Wood to pitch Friday night and Kevin Gausman to go Sunday for the Giants, with a probable bullpen game on Saturday. Maybe Sammy Long can live up to his last name. Maybe Johnny Cueto comes back. We’ll see, but Johnny Wholestaff isn’t inspiring confidence.
The A’s will counter with Sean Manaea on Friday, Frankie Montas on Saturday, and Chris Bassitt on Sunday.
My, what a game that Sunday afternoon contest will be with two of the best pitchers in the game on the mound.
There’s not much between these teams as of late — the Giants are steady and have been the best team in baseball for months, the A’s are one of the hottest teams in the game. The slight, perceived advantage in starting pitching and home-field advantage (to whatever degree that exists in Oakland) gives the A’s the slim nod.
Who gets that peculiar TV station trophy in a tie? It might be total runs scored, but it’s probably the team that owns part of the station. Congrats, Giants.
Last Week’s Prediction Scorecard
Lance and Garoppolo tighten up — I can see both sides of this argument. Lance showed what he’s shown in practice against Kansas City. I’ll be diplomatic and call this a push. 🙃
The Warriors will not make a trade — Too easy ✅
The Giants create more separation in the National League West — I mean, they did. They just lost it. The Giants were four games up on the Dodgers last Monday morning. They were four games up today. They did add three games of cushion to their lead over the Padres. I’ll take a small win here. 😎