The San Francisco Giants finished 2022 with a .500 record of 81 wins and 81 losses. Unfortunately, the Giants are in the same National League West as the 111-game-winning Los Angeles Dodgers and the explosive – and free-spending – San Diego Padres, so progress into the top two spots in the division will be a challenge.
The Giants start the season on the road, facing an old rival in the New York Yankees. After a pit stop in Chicago to face the White Sox, the Giants open their home slate at Oracle Park with the visit of the Kansas City Royals for a four-game series beginning on Friday, April 7. The Giants also have home series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, and St. Louis Cardinals before the end of April.
Here are three questions for the Giants ahead of the 2023 season.
Three Key Questions
Can the pitching pin down the Dodgers and Padres?
Being in the NL West is a problem that the Giants can’t do anything about. The balanced schedule – that sees all MLB teams play fewer games in their own division and take on all 29 other franchises during the season – helps the Giants as much as any team in the league. Playing against those lineups in LA and San Diego too often can really wear a pitcher down mentally. The Giants have Logan Webb and Alex Cobb as top-of-the-rotation guys, while the pitching depth is more than adequate. Even so, they will have to pitch their way to series wins against the big dogs at some point. Losing Carlos Rodon is huge.
Is there a star to lean on?
Losing Carlos Correa really hurts (his free agency nonsense was some of the weirdest stuff in baseball history), as does not signing a true superstar like Aaron Judge. This lineup is perfectly competent everywhere you look but has no players or positions that particularly stand out. That is fine for the regular season and getting above .500, but pushing on a team requires an X-factor. The stability is nice, but the Giants must add something during the season if they push for a playoff spot.
Can they make the bullpen work less?
The Giants’ bullpen logged the fifth-most innings pitched in the league last season. They averaged over four innings of relief per game, which is really too high for a tea looking to be a contender. Using that many bullpen arms consistently reduces the number of options a manager has, potentially taking key relievers out in crucial situations as they have recently been used. The Giants need to find a way to get their starters to work longer in games, opening up bullpen options later in the year.