The San Francisco Giants have been proficient at overcoming obstacles this season, and they now face two more: the Los Angeles Dodgers and a new rash of injuries.
The Giants will be put to the test again Friday in the second game of a four-game road series against the Dodgers. After Thursday’s 4-3 defeat in the opener, the Giants have lost all four games against the Dodgers this season and six consecutive going back to last year.
It’s yet another challenge for the Giants. After filling their starting staff with free-agents such as Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood and Aaron Sanchez, they have a top starting rotation. San Francisco is one of five major league teams with a starters’ ERA under 3.00.
Now they need to apply their on-the-fly success at first base due to injuries. On Wednesday, Brandon Belt (oblique) went on the injured list and on Thursday, Darin Ruf (hamstring) followed him to the IL.
Tommy La Stella (hamstring) can play some first base, but he is on the 60-day IL, perhaps for another two months. Wilmer Flores is on the shelf with a hamstring injury, too, but at least he could be back by this weekend.
On Thursday, the Giants had Jason Vosler playing first base and batting eighth. He went 0-for-3 but he did hit his first major league home run Wednesday at Arizona. Giants manager Gabe Kapler was even asked if perhaps veteran catcher Buster Posey is an option at first.
“We’re probably going to stay the course (at catcher) with Buster,” Kapler said. “I’m not saying it would be out of the question. It will always be on the table, and we’ll challenge our own positions on things regularly.”
The Dodgers await their own influx of talent from the IL. Outfielder Cody Bellinger (leg fracture) and utility man Zach McKinstry (oblique) are expected to return in the current series. Bellinger has been out since the opening road trip of the season and still has not played a home game in 2021.
While Posey is not yet an option at first base for the Giants, the Dodgers will consider putting Bellinger at the position, where he has extensive experience. A temporary move to the infield would limit Bellinger’s need to run at a full sprint, helping to aid his recovery.
“I’d like to say it’ll be center field exclusively,” Roberts said of Bellinger’s pending return. “But if it makes sense to have him over there at first base to essentially manage the workload for that particular night to get his bat in the lineup, that certainly will be entertained.”
Bellinger might not be ready to return by Friday, though, leaving at least that particular bat out of the lineup for DeSclafani to deal with as the Giants starter. The right-hander (4-2, 3.54 ERA) has not fared well against the Dodgers in his career with a 1-6 record in seven starts and a 6.75 ERA.
The Dodgers will counter with right-hander Walker Buehler (3-0, 2.78), who received an extra day of rest this turn through the rotation after Los Angeles elected to go with a bullpen day on Thursday. Buehler is 5-0 with a 2.68 ERA against the Giants in eight appearances (six starts).
–Field Level Media