Giants

Giants vs. Cubs lineups: Jeff Samardzija on mound trying to avoid sweep

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Giants vs. Cubs lineups: Jeff Samardzija on mound trying to avoid sweep

The Giants will be closing out their time in the Windy City on Thursday with a matinee game as they send former Cub Jeff Samardzija to the hill.

Samardzija enters with a 9-9 record and sports a 3.54 ERA. He most recently earned a no-decision after throwing 5 1/3 innings in the Giants’ 10-9 win in Arizona on Friday night.

The Cubs will counter with Kyle Hendricks, who owns nearly identical numbers. The Chicago righty has an 8-9 record and a 3.37 ERA on the year.

Hendricks is making his regular-season debut against San Francisco, but he has faced off with the Orange and Black before. In the 2016 NLDS, Hendricks got the start in Game 2 and pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowing two runs as the Cubs won 5-2 inside the Friendly Confines.

Buster Posey is back behind the plate for the Giants after being off Wednesday and Scooter Gennett slides down to the seventh spot in the lineup after hitting second in last night’s game.

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Here are how the lineups look to shape up as the Cubs play host to the Giants on Thursday. You can follow the action on NBC Sports Bay Area or by downloading and streaming on the MyTeams app.

San Francisco Giants (63-64)
Mike Yastrzemski, RF
Buster Posey, C
Alex Dickerson, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Brandon Belt, 1B
Kevin Pillar, CF
Scooter Gennett, 2B
Brandon Crawford, SS
Jeff Samardzija, P (9-9, 3.54 ERA)
 
Chicago Cubs (68-58)
Jason Heyward, CF
Nicholas Castellanos, RF
Kris Bryant, 3B
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Javier Baez, SS
Kyle Schwarber, LF
Ian Happ, 2B
Victor Caratini, C
Kyle Hendricks, P (8-9, 3.27 ERA)

MLB rumors: Giants to hire Reds' Donnie Ecker as new hitting coach

MLB rumors: Giants to hire Reds' Donnie Ecker as new hitting coach

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants are hoping to see a youth movement in their lineup over the next couple of seasons. They're apparently going with the same approach on their coaching staff. 

Cincinnati Reds assistant hitting coach Donnie Ecker will be named the Giants' hitting coach, according to Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic. The Giants did not immediately confirm the hire. They are expected to announce their staff next week at the Winter Meetings. Ecker, 33, is just five years removed from being the baseball coach at Los Altos High, his alma mater. 

The Giants have spent the last month putting Gabe Kapler's staff in place, and they have not looked in traditional corners. They have worked to surround Kapler with coaches who take a more modern approach and can help develop the next Giants contender, and Ecker certainly qualifies as an interesting hire. 

Ecker spent just one season as assistant hitting coach in Cincinnati. In 2018 he was the Triple-A hitting coach for the Angels, and before that, he coached in the minors for the Cardinals for three seasons. Ecker's coaching career began in 2013 when he took a job at Los Altos High, where he was a two-sport star in baseball and football. Ecker was a 22nd-round pick of the Rangers in 2007 but got just 97 minor league at-bats. 

Ecker certainly is a bit of an out-of-the-box hire, but that might be just what the Giants need after years of struggling to put together a lineup that can hit at Oracle Park. Ecker's bio with the Reds stated that "his teaching methods incorporate human movement research and technology-based applications to the body and swing." He is described as someone who is an "integrated movement specialist."

[RELATED: Where Giants' core players stand as Winter Meetings near]

Once confirmed, Ecker will join third base coach Ron Wotus as members of Kapler's staff. The Giants also have hired Brian Bannister as Director of Pitching but it's unclear if that role will have him in the dugout. 

MLB rumors: Giants targeted Georgia's Sean Kenny as next pitching coach

MLB rumors: Giants targeted Georgia's Sean Kenny as next pitching coach

The Giants' coaching staff under manager Gabe Kapler is starting to take shape. 

The Athletic's Andrew Baggarly reported Sunday that San Francisco was in negotiations with Indians defensive coordinator Kai Correa, and sources told NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic on Wednesday that Brian Bannister, a former big leaguer who spent the previous five seasons with the Red Sox, will join the Giants as their director of pitching

Speaking of pitching, the Giants appear to be on the hunt for a new pitching coach. And their search seems far and wide. 

D1Baseball's Kendall Rogers reported Wednesday that the Giants targeted the University of Georgia's pitching coach Sean Kenny for the same role in the big leagues. But, UGA made sure Kenny stayed in Athens. 

Kendall says the Giants have looked at several candidates from college and the pros, and Kenny looks like a prime coach on the rise. The former 17th-round pick of the Mets became Georgia's pitching coach before the 2018 season and instantly made a huge impact. 

Georgia's pitching staff lowered its team ERA 1.05 points to 3.97 in Kenny's first year on the job, and set a school record with a .236 opponent's batting average. That number dropped to a lowly .200 last season, as UGA's ERA fell to 3.24 while setting a school record with 601 strikeouts. 

[RELATED: Report: Twins, White Sox 'heaviest suitors' for MadBum]

The Giants haven't formally announced that Curt Young will not return for a third season as their pitching coach, but it was expected that Kapler would bring in several new coaches. The only known coach to come back next season is Ron Wotus, who will be in his 33rd year with the Giants organization.

Bench coach Hensley Meulens has joined the Mets, and hitting coach Alonzo Powell accepted a job in Japan in the same role.