MLB: Opener between Giants, Brewers all about bullpens

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San Francisco ace Logan Webb should be taking his turn in the rotation on Thursday in a bid for his seventh straight quality start. Instead, the Giants will hand the ball to a guy more accustomed to ending games.

With Webb still dealing with the back tightness that caused him to leave his Saturday start early, Giants manager Gabe Kapler said reliever Scott Alexander would be the team’s opener as San Francisco begins a four-game set in Milwaukee.

Alexander (4-0, 4.42 ERA) pitched twice in the Giants’ most recent series, a three-game set at Minnesota. He should be rested, having thrown a total of 19 pitches over two innings in the two appearances. The left-hander picked up his first save of the year and the 10th of his nine-year career on Monday in a 4-1 win over the Twins.

The only game in the series in which Alexander did not pitch was San Francisco’s lone loss, a 7-1 setback on Wednesday. The Giants’ bats weren’t necessarily the problem, as they produced 10 hits, though San Francisco did leave a whopping 15 runners on base.

The biggest culprit may have been the Giants’ gloves, as four errors helped the Twins score three unearned runs.

“Not our best defensive game,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “A good reminder that we have been playing good defense for the majority of the season, but that obviously wasn’t good enough.”

Though Alexander has made only five starts in his career, he has plenty of experience against the Brewers. In 10 career appearances (one start), Alexander has given up two runs on eight hits in 11 innings, good for a 1.64 ERA.

While the Giants have their opener set, things may be even more tenuous in the other dugout.

Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell did not name a starting pitcher for Thursday in his postgame press conference following the Brewers’ Wednesday win over visiting Houston, but Julio Teheran would be the likely choice if he can pass his physical.

The two-time All-Star, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since the 2021 season, agreed to terms with the Brewers on Tuesday. Regardless, Milwaukee likely will lean heavily on its bullpen on Thursday. Brewers relievers have combined for 7 1/3 scoreless innings in the past two games — 6-0 and 4-0 shutouts of the Astros.

Joel Payamps entered with two runners aboard and one out in the sixth inning in both contests and escaped both innings unscathed.

“He’s pitched wonderfully and he’s getting big outs,” Counsell said. “I think he’s confident, I think that’s the big thing. With any of these guys, they come into a game and they’re confident and then it doesn’t really matter the spot they’re in, they feel like they’re going to do their job.”

Payamps likely won’t be available Thursday, but closer Devin Williams will be fresh. He hasn’t pitched since recording his seventh save in a 6-4 win against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

“It’s kind of been a strange season for Devin,” Counsell said. “In years past, we’ve had an incredible number of save opportunities, and this year it’s been a little different, so at some point that will change and there will be a ton of moments for Devin.”

–Field Level Media

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