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2021 Series Preview: Houston Astros @ San Francisco Giants

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The teams with the best records in the MLB face off: The Astros (63-40, 1st in AL West) visit the Giants (64-38, 1st in NL West) at Oracle Park.

San Francisco Giants v Houston Astros Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Quick Notes

The Giants have surprised everyone in baseball. Back in spring training, not many people would call San Francisco a contender or at least not many people would have expected them to be ahead of the Dodgers and Padres in the National League West Division.

But in baseball, things can change. And they did for the Giants, who got to this three-game series with 64-38 (best record in MLB) and a 3.0-game lead over Los Ángeles. Want a reason why? Their pitching —led by Kevin Gausman and Anthony DeSclafani— owns the third-best ERA (3.31) in baseball and the best WHIP (1.11). Offensively, they have the best OPS in the senior circuit, thanks to vintage versions of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, and Evan Longoria (currently on the injured list).

In terms of their matchups, the Astros have won seven of their last eight face-offs against the Giants going back to August 2015. Additionally, the Giants have had a rough time trying to find consistency since the All-Star break, a span in which they are 7-6. Considering those marks plus the facts that the Giants are 33-16 at home and these are the best records in the Major Leagues, this should be a pretty interesting series at Oracle Park.

Last 10 Games: 6-4 Record, 2 Series Won (both vs Dodgers), 0 Run Differential (41 Scored, 41 Allowed)

W/L Splits: 33-16 at home, 31-22 on the road, 31-23 against teams over .500


Offense

The Astros’ pitching will have a bigger challenge here, as the Giants can destroy you in more ways than one. Despite having a high 24.7 strikeout percentage, San Francisco is second in home runs in the MLB, with 151 (only behind Toronto’s 153). At the same time, they’re fourth in walk percentage (10.1%).

But fortunately for Houston, the Giants are not having a good time right now. In the past 15 days, they’re last in batting average (.228), second-to-last in OPS (.725) MLB, and third with most strikeouts (124).

Notable Players:

  • At 34 years old, Brandon Crawford is having the best season of his career. Not only has he posted a .286/.365/.547 across 83 games, but he’s also been the big man hitting in clutch spots for the Giants. With runners in scoring position, he averages .368 (25-for-68) and registers 13 walks.
  • Buster Posey is doing Buster Posey things after opting out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With a .326/.416/.542 slash line, the backstop is leading the team with a .958 OPS. He doesn’t strike out (48) and is pretty good at drawing walks (34). Posey is absolutely smashing left-handed hitters, another X-Factor for this series: .394/.467/.606.

Pitching

The Astros will face some of the Giants’ best pitching at the onset of their matches, at least among their starters: righty Gausman and lefty Alex Wood. To give you an idea, their starting pitcher with the highest ERA is Johnny Cueto, with 3.84. Their starting five combines with a solid bullpen that features Tyler Rogers, an effective Dominic Leone, and closer Jake McGee.

An important point here: They get you fast. They don’t waste many pitches. In fact, the Giants are first in fewer pitches per inning on average (15.66). As if it wasn’t enough, their bullpen is tied for most holds with the Braves and Red Sox (65 each).

Notable Players:

  • Kevin Gausman (RHP, 2.21 ERA, 122 IP, 140 Ks) is their ace and, like Posey, is in the middle of his most dominant campaign. With a 2.21 ERA, a personal-best 0.92 WHIP, a 2.99 FIP, and 5.5 H9 / 2.7 BB9 / 10.3 SO9 ratios, Gausman has shown everyone why he’s an All-Star.
  • Jake McGee (LHP, 2.34 ERA, 42.1 IP, 45 Ks) has revived his career in the last two years and is enjoying success in his new role as the Giants’ closer. McGee’s carrying an 0.80 WHIP and is giving up only 1.5 walks per nine. Opponents are hitting a weak .174 average off him. He hasn’t allowed an earned run since May 30.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Framber Valdez (LHP, 6-2, 2.97 ERA, 60 Ks) vs Kevin Gausman (RHP, 9-4, 2.21 ERA, 140 Ks)

Despite being brilliant in 2021, Gausman struggled in his two most recent starts (vs Dodgers and Pirates), going 7 13 innings and surrendering 11 hits plus eight earned runs and seven bases on balls (three home runs). This will be Gausman’s third career start against the Astros, but his first since 2017.

Game 2: Zack Greinke (RHP, 10-3, 3.48 ERA, 93 Ks) vs Alex Wood (LHP, 9-3, 3.65 ERA, 102 Ks)

After suffering multiple injuries between 2019 and 2020, Wood is back in full health now. The lefty hasn’t taken a loss since June 1, with four wins over that period. Wood’s latest start vs Houston came in 2018, when he threw six innings of four-hit, two-run ball despite losing the game.

Game 3: Luis García (RHP, 7-5, 3.19 ERA, 114 Ks) vs Logan Webb (RHP, 4-3, 3.36 ERA, 70 Ks)

After having subpar years with the Giants in 2019 and 2020, Webb has put it all together this season. He’s been carrying momentum on the hill since May 11, a span in which he’s 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA and 37 strikeouts across 35 episodes. Webb has faced the Astros just once in his career and it didn’t go well (L, 3.1 IP, 4 H, 5 R).


For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Friday, July 30th @ 8:45 pm CT

Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM / 94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTHR 740 AM / 99.1 FM HD-2 Giants - KNBR 680, 1510 AM - KSFN

Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW Giants - NBCS BA

Game 2: Saturday, July 31st @ 3:05 pm CT

Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM / 94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010 Giants - KNBR 680, 1510 AM - KSFN

Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW Giants - NBCS BA

Game 3: Sunday, August 1st @ 3:05 pm CT

Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM / 94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010 Giants - KNBR 680, 1510 AM - KSFN

Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW Giants - NBCS BA


Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (16 votes)
  • 50%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (66 votes)
  • 30%
    Giants Win 2-1
    (40 votes)
  • 6%
    Giants Sweep 3-0
    (9 votes)
131 votes total Vote Now