What comes next? Giants postseason FAQ

September 18th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- Now that the Giants have clinched their first postseason berth since 2016, here’s our first attempt to answer some frequently asked questions about playoff rosters, scheduling and more:

What could the postseason roster look like?

Here’s one guess:

C: Buster Posey, Curt Casali
1B: Brandon Belt
2B: Tommy La Stella, Donovan Solano
SS: Brandon Crawford
3B: Evan Longoria
UTL: Kris Bryant, Wilmer Flores
OF: LaMonte Wade Jr., Mike Yastrzemski, Darin Ruf, Austin Slater, Steven Duggar
SP: Kevin Gausman, Logan Webb, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood
RP: Jake McGee, Tyler Rogers, Jarlín García, Dominic Leone, Tony Watson, José Álvarez, Zack Littell, Jay Jackson

What’s left to play for?
The Giants will take a moment to soak in their playoff clinch, but they have bigger goals in mind, namely to end the Dodgers’ eight-year reign atop the National League West. The Giants are assured of at least hosting the NL Wild Card Game, but they remain focused on winning the division to avoid finding themselves in a single-game elimination scenario. Heading into Saturday, the Giants have a two-game lead over the Dodgers with 14 games left to go.

“I think it's more of a ‘We want to win the division’ feeling,” Tyler Rogers said Sunday. “Obviously, if we do end up clinching a playoff spot here sometime soon, we're not going to take the foot off the gas. Winning the division is our mindset.”

The Giants will also be looking to finish with the best record in baseball, which would guarantee them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Who are they likely to face in the first round?
That remains unsettled and likely won’t be decided until the final days of the regular season. If they can hold on for the division title and secure the No. 1 seed, the Giants would play the winner of the NL Wild Card Game, which is projected to feature the Dodgers and the Cardinals entering Saturday. The Reds and the Padres remain in the mix for the second spot as well.

When do the playoffs start?
The NL Wild Card Game will take place on Oct. 6. The best-of-five NL Division Series will follow, with Games 1-2 taking place on Oct. 8-9; Games 3-4 set for Oct. 11-12; and any potential Game 5s scheduled for Oct. 14.

What is the likely starting rotation?
The Giants would likely go with Kevin Gausman, Logan Webb and Anthony DeSclafani in a best-of-five playoff series, with Alex Wood a possible option to pitch out of the bullpen. The more intriguing question for the Giants is who they’ll tap to be their Game 1 starter. Gausman was the club’s first-half ace, but the 24-year-old Webb has emerged as the most dominant member of the rotation since the All-Star break.

Who’s hurt?
Johnny Cueto is working his way back from a right elbow strain, putting his availability for the postseason in doubt. The 35-year-old veteran has started a throwing progression and could ramp up to throwing live batting practice by Sept. 27, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to pitch again before the end of the regular season.

The Giants’ bullpen also took a significant hit when closer Jake McGee landed on the 10-day injured list with a right oblique strain. McGee will be eligible to return on Sept. 24 at the earliest, leaving Tyler Rogers, Dominic Leone and Tony Watson as candidates to pitch the ninth in the meantime.

Alex Dickerson is on the mend from a right hamstring strain and has begun a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento, but the Giants have no obvious need in their outfield right now, so they’ll have to decide whether the 31-year-old slugger is still a fit for their roster.