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Kurtenbach: 3 up, 3 down from SF Giants’ season-opening series in San Diego

Kurtenbach: 3 up, 3 down from SF Giants’ season-opening series in San Diego

All in all, the Giants ended the first series of the year as you would have predicted: .500.

But this was no ordinary split of a four-game series in San Diego.

No, it was a roller coaster ride of emotion, featuring the best and worst the Giants had to offer, all in one long weekend.

Here are my six takeaways from the season openers:

UP: Matt Chapman

There are not many position players in baseball who can dominate an entire game. To do so requires next-level ability at the plate and on the diamond.

The Padres have a player who can do it — Fernando Tatis Jr. On Friday night, the perennial MVP candidate hit two home runs (including one that was impossible) and flashed serious leather in right field, where he won the Platinum Glove last season.

But the Giants won that game, because they have a player like that, too.

Matt Chapman also hit two home runs Friday. He’s a two-time Platinum Glove winner who has wasted no time proving that he still has it in the field. His absurd day (three extra-base hits, five RBI, a game-ending double play I’m still thinking about) should have served notice to the rest of the National League West that the Giants—yes, the Giants—have a star player in their lineup every day.

At the very least, they should know not to hit it to the left side of the infield. His pairing with Nick Ahmed is spectacular.

DOWN: Joey Bart

As in, he was designated for assignment before Sunday’s game.

I actually have little problem with how the Giants handled this situation. The team wasn’t going to carry three catchers all season, but had they made this move (Bart was out of options) at the end of Spring Training, San Francisco would have certainly lost the former No. 2 overall pick.

They might still lose him. Frankly, they should lose him. But by waiting until the season was a few days old, Farhan Zaidi likely limited the list of suitors. Going into the first game of the season, a roster is fluid. No decisions have truly been made. But by waiting until every team in baseball had to cull their roster to 26 players, the Giants stand a chance (even a slim one) of getting Bart to Sacramento. Teams that just made a tough decision probably don’t want to go back and tell the catcher who made their team, “We’re going with the stranger,” a week later.

Still, I expect Bart to go elsewhere.

It would be a huge but strange win if the Giants can get Bart through waivers.

But Bart is the third-best catcher in the organization right now. As long as that’s the case, he can’t be carried on the 26-man roster.

[Meanwhile, Tom Murphy looks like he might be the best, but it’s early days. (My goodness, has he hit the ball hard.)]

UP: The Giants’ bonafide starters

Logan Webb deserved better on Opening Day. He was nasty in the best possible way.

And Kyle Harrison and Jordan Hicks were both marvelous in their season debuts.

Harrison’s four-seam fastball is still sneaking up on hitters — he picked up five whiffs on it Friday, as he had an average of 21 inches of vertical break on it. That, paired with his repeated release point, strong tunneling, and ability to hide the ball makes 93 look like 98 miles per hour. I’m not sure Stuff-plus and other pitching evaluation models can take his deception on pitches into account. And while the breaking pitches still need some work, there’s a lot of promise for Harrison yet.

Hicks’ debut needs no interpretation. Even though he’s taken a few miles per hour off his pitches, he’s finding the zone more than when he was a reliever, and he’s borderline unhittable when he’s cooking. He had such stretches on Saturday.

Hicks has a chance for a special season if he can master the feel of that splitter.

DOWN: The other two spots in the rotation

Daulton Jefferies seems like a nice guy, and it’s a hell of a story that he’s back in the big leagues, but, well, that’s about all I can say after a two-inning, nine-run (five earned), one-strikeout start Sunday. Happy Easter!

And on Monday, the Giants are going Johnny Wholestaff against (checks my notes…) the Dodgers.

Blake Snell and Alex Cobb cannot join this rotation soon enough.

UP: Situational hitting

The Giants started the season 11-for-33 with runners in scoring position, driving in 19 runs and posting a .912 OPS.

Chapman has three hits with RISP, Ahmed two. Wilmer Flores also has two, but Michael Conforto, who had a monster series, hit a grand slam on Saturday, so that takes the cake.

The Giants’ offense should be solid this season, but they’re not going to bop with the best teams in baseball.

Situational hitting will determine whether this team is just another mediocre club or something more. You have to like the (very) early returns.

DOWN: Camilo Doval in a non-save situation

I know he needed the work, but did no one tell Bob Melvin about this?

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