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Giants hope to address 'pen before Opening Day '17

Nucleus will return largely intact as club looks for success in an odd-numbered year
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hoping to start a new tradition of thriving in an odd-numbered year, the Giants have the luxury of retooling, but not necessarily rebuilding, their roster as they approach the 2017 season.

The Giants believe that their nucleus remains skilled enough to enable them to remain postseason contenders. Catcher Buster Posey, shortstop Brandon Crawford, second baseman Joe Panik, first baseman Brandon Belt, left-hander Madison Bumgarner and right-hander Johnny Cueto were National League All-Star selections within the last two years.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hoping to start a new tradition of thriving in an odd-numbered year, the Giants have the luxury of retooling, but not necessarily rebuilding, their roster as they approach the 2017 season.

The Giants believe that their nucleus remains skilled enough to enable them to remain postseason contenders. Catcher Buster Posey, shortstop Brandon Crawford, second baseman Joe Panik, first baseman Brandon Belt, left-hander Madison Bumgarner and right-hander Johnny Cueto were National League All-Star selections within the last two years.

Giants' 2017 regular-season schedule

World Series champions in 2010, '12 and '14, the Giants appear to possess an elite starting rotation led by Bumgarner and Cueto. They must hope that right-hander Jeff Samardzija can reestablish his consistency and left-hander Matt Moore, a Trade Deadline acquisition in '16 who won six of eight decisions down the stretch, can sustain that kind of effectiveness over an entire season.

Video: Larry Baer talks about the Giants' championship DNA

Improving the bullpen is an offseason must for the Giants, who blew a Major League-high 30 save opportunities.

OPPONENT

The Giants will open the 2017 regular season against the D-backs at Chase Field on Sunday, April 2. San Francisco finished 13-6 against the D-backs in 2016, sweeping a four-game series and a pair of three-game series against them, after Arizona swept a four-game set from them April 18-21. Right-hander Zack Greinke almost surely will be the Opening Day starter for the D-backs, who entered 2016 with high expectations but finished 69-93, fourth in the NL West.

OPENING DAY STARTER

Bumgarner is likely to receive his fourth consecutive Opening Day start, befitting his status as San Francisco's ace. He's 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in those assignments, which include two season openers at Arizona. He allowed four unearned runs in four innings and received a no-decision in a 9-8 Giants win on March 31, 2014, then earned the victory while yielding one run in seven innings in San Francisco's 5-4 triumph on April 6, 2015.

OPENING DAY LINEUP

Using only players currently on the Giants' roster, here is what the team's lineup could look like:

1. Eduardo Nunez, 3B
2. Panik, 2B
3. Posey, C
4. Hunter Pence, RF
5. Belt, 1B
6. Crawford, SS
7. Mac Williamson, LF
8. Gorkys Hernandez, CF
9. Bumgarner, P

THREE REASONS TO BE EXCITED

• Manager Bruce Bochy's ballclub will have a fresh resolve after vanishing from this year's postseason in the NL Division Series.

Video: Bruce Bochy talks about his team's drive to win title

• The starting rotation will benefit from having Moore all season, and the anticipated competition between Matt Cain and Ty Blach will only help the club.

• The bullpen has to be better. Management typically zeros in on the team's most pressing needs, and this offseason should be no exception.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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