The longstanding rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants added a wrinkle when Farhan Zaidi switched allegiances in November 2018. The former Dodgers general manager was hired by the Giants as president of baseball operations.
Zaidi’s departure was considered a notable loss, as his philosophies blended well with Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. Ahed of Zaidi entering a second year leading the Giants’ front office, he embarked on a managerial search to replace the retiring Bruce Bochy.
Zaidi ultimately settled on Gabe Kapler, who once was a candidate for the Dodgers’ managerial vacancy that ultimately went to Roberts. The hire caught some by surprise, as Kapler was coming of an unceremonious stint with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Now Zaidi and Kapler are tasked with ushering the Giants through a rebuild. And low expectations have further pushed Kapler into pushing boundaries with traditional managerial courtesies. Whereas the Dodgers set an Opening Series starting rotation, the Giants have been slow to name starters beyond Johnny Cueto in the season opener.
“I don’t know,” Roberts said when asked what was to make the Giants’ being slow to announce both their day’s starter and lineup. “I think it’s a little bit of gamesmanship, we’ll call it. To each their own.”
On Friday, Roberts was presented with a question about facing Jeff Samardzija — the presumed starter. He clarified it was Tyler Anderson who instead was taking the mound for San Francisco, but even that came with uncertainty.
“We’ve seen him in Colorado, just really don’t know how they’re going to use him, but we’ll be ready for anything,” Roberts said. “As far as Samardzija, if and when we’ll see him, he’s sinker and slider, competitor. We’ve gotten him some times, he’s gotten us some times.”
Kapler has openly questioned if it was time to change the norm of notifying the opponent of your starting pitcher in effort to gain a competitive advantage. He went so far as to suggest the strategy could entail having two pitchers warm up pregame.
Kapler figures to be under an intense microscope with how he will handle matters moving forward, and whether or not it is successful figures to provide for plenty of fodder as well.
Dodgers working balancing act
Whether in response to the Giants’ tactics or a general approach regardless of opponent, the Dodgers have alternated Max Muncy and Mookie Betts in the leadoff spot through the first three games.
Roberts explained he anticipates having Betts atop the order when the Dodgers are facing a left-handed starter, and Muncy will lead off when a righty is on the mound.
“It’s just tougher to navigate. For me to have the buy-in from the players, regardless of where they hit, to take their at-bats, it makes it a lot easier on me and more difficult on opposing managers,” Roberts said.
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