Opening Day FAQ: Giants vs. Yankees

MLB

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NEW YORK — The mood was somber as Aaron Boone poked at his dinner on the evening of Dec. 6, unable to enjoy the ambiance of a trendy restaurant in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.

Baseball’s Winter Meetings were in full swing, and the Yankees’ manager shuddered at a thought that kept creeping into his mind: Aaron Judge, standing on the third-base line at Yankee Stadium for Opening Day, dressed in Giants black and orange.

“Should I call him?” Boone asked the other guests at his table, a group that included Bombers front-office executives Matt Daley, Jay Darnell, Jim Hendry and Tim Naehring. The others nodded and replied, “Yes!”

Boone and Judge spoke that night, and the manager closed their conversation with a request — please don’t sign anything before calling Hal Steinbrenner. Judge agreed, and the Yankees’ managing general partner soon hopped on an international call from Italy, hammering out the framework of a nine-year, $360 million contract. The call concluded with Steinbrenner offering Judge the captaincy, making him the 16th in franchise history — the first since Derek Jeter.

Growing up in Linden, Calif., Judge’s childhood dream had been to play for the Giants. He stayed up past his bedtime to cheer Barry Bonds’ march to 73 home runs and counted Rich Aurilia as his favorite player. But as Judge weighed his options in free agency, one thought ruled above all: he had unfinished business in pinstripes.

“We haven’t brought that championship home,” Judge said. “That was always deep in my heart. There were some teams out there that we had great meetings with, but ultimately when I came back home and got to sit down with my wife [Samantha] and talk about things, we belonged in New York.”

When is the game and how can I watch it?
Thursday at 1:05 p.m. ET/10:05 a.m. PT, live on MLB.TV and MLB Network. In New York, the game will be televised on the YES Network. Giants fans can watch locally on NBC Sports Bay Area and listen on KNBR 680 AM.

What are the likely lineups?

Who are the starting pitchers?
Giants
: Logan Webb will get his second consecutive Opening Day assignment for the Giants. The 26-year-old right-hander went 15-9 with a 2.90 ERA over a career-high 192 1/3 innings in 2022. Webb is known for his elite sinker, which induced the second-highest ground-ball rate in the Majors last season, though he mixes in plenty of changeups and sliders, as well.

Yankees: Gerrit Cole will draw his fourth consecutive Opening Day start for the Yankees. Last year, Cole went 13-8 with a 3.50 ERA in 33 regular-season starts, striking out a Major League-leading 257 batters to eclipse Ron Guidry’s single-season franchise record. Cole became the first Yankees pitcher to throw at least 200 innings in a season since CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda in 2013.

How might the bullpens line up after the starter?
Giants
: The bullpen will be led by flamethrower Camilo Doval, who emerged as one of the best young closers in the league after posting a 2.53 ERA with 27 saves over 68 appearances in 2022. The Giants added left-hander Taylor Rogers on a three-year, $33 million deal over the offseason, so he should feature prominently in the back-end mix alongside his twin brother, submariner Tyler Rogers, and veterans John Brebbia and Scott Alexander.

Yankees: The Yankees’ late-inning relief mix figures to prominently feature Wandy Peralta, Michael King, Jonathan Loaisiga and Ron Marinaccio as the setup men for closer Clay Holmes. An All-Star last season, Holmes recorded 20 saves while posting a 2.54 ERA.

Any injuries of note?
Giants:
Outfielders Mitch Haniger (left oblique strain) and Austin Slater (left hamstring strain) are expected to open the season on the injured list, creating spots for rookies Blake Sabol and Bryce Johnson on the Opening Day roster. Right-hander Alex Cobb is also dealing with a nagging left knee bruise, which could affect his availability for Saturday.

Yankees: The Yankees had several prominent injuries during Spring Training. They are beginning the regular season without center fielder Harrison Bader (left oblique strain), right-hander Tommy Kahnle (right biceps tendinitis), left-hander Carlos Rodón (left elbow strain), righty Luis Severino (right lat strain) and righty Lou Trivino (right elbow ligament sprain), among others.

Who’s hot and who’s not?
Giants:
Sabol, a Rule 5 Draft pick, earned a spot on the team after batting a team-high .349 with three homers and four doubles over 19 Cactus League games. The Giants don’t put much stock in Spring Training results, but outfielder Mike Yastrzemski (.120 batting average) and third baseman David Villar (.156 batting average) had slow starts during Cactus League play.

Yankees: Cole had a strong spring, striking out 27 batters in 21 2/3 innings while compiling a 3.32 ERA over five starts. Volpe was one of the Yanks’ offensive standouts, winning a spot on the Opening Day roster by batting .309 (17-for-55) in 19 games, with 10 of his hits going for extra bases. Judge hit .350 (14-for-40) with two homers in 16 spring games. Anthony Rizzo had a quiet spring, batting .211 (8-for-38) with one homer in 15 games.

Anything else fans might want to know?
• Crawford is 6-for-20 (.300) lifetime against Cole — his brother-in-law — and drove an opposite-field home run into the Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid Park during one of their most memorable faceoffs on May 22, 2018. Cole is married to Crawford’s sister, Amy, a former softball player whom he met on his first day of college at UCLA.

• The Giants have had 16 left fielders in their past 16 Opening Day lineups, a remarkable run that began with Barry Bonds’ final season in 2007. That streak seems destined to stay alive this year, as Sabol appears in line to get the starting nod against Cole and make his Major League debut in left on Thursday.

• Conforto will make his long-awaited return to the Majors after missing the entire 2022 campaign due to right shoulder surgery. Conforto, who blasted a team-high four home runs during Cactus League play, will likely start in right field and play in front of the New York crowd for the first time since ’21, his final season with the Mets.

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