Gabe Kapler has been remarkably disciplined this season with Buster Posey's playing time, and Tuesday afternoon's lineup brought another reminder that there's not much that can change the manager's mind about what's right for the team.
The Giants are facing Madison Bumgarner in front of fans for the first time, but Posey is out of the lineup, along with shortstop Brandon Crawford. Kapler went heavy on right-handed bats against Bumgarner, prioritizing rest for Posey and Crawford, who has played against a lot of lefties this season. Seven of the eight position players facing Bumgarner bat right-handed:
Kapler and Posey have stuck to a strict plan this year, with Posey starting three consecutive games on just three occasions. Two of those included games against the Dodgers, who have been trying to chase the Giants down, and one included a seven-inning doubleheader that lasted just over two hours.
Posey started Sunday against the Astros and Monday night at Chase Field in a game that ended up lasting just over four hours. Before the series opener, Kapler said he does account for the fact that fans and players want to see matchups like Posey vs. Bumgarner, but indicated the long-term plan would still be the overriding factor.
"Yes, it plays a role. It's factored in," he said of the nostalgic factor. "I think some of this has to do with me having a conversation with Buster or Brandon about their upcoming schedules or their off days and making sure they're a part of that, and that helps me make better decisions. I know that Buster and Brandon and others will want the opportunity to compete against Bum.
"At the same time, we probably have to weigh that but not so much that it takes us off of our schedules that are meant to protect our players."
Since Bumgarner signed a five-year deal with the Diamondbacks in December of 2019, both Posey and Bumgarner -- close friends on and off the field -- have said they're looking forward to the first matchup.
"Come on, Bum, you're proud of your fastball," Posey said at FanFest the next February. "Challenge me a little bit."
A lot has changed since then, though. The Giants have gone platoon-heavy and limited wear-and-tear on their stars, and they enter this matchup with MLB's best record. That's the key factor in all decisions right now, and Kapler is hoping to keep Posey and Crawford -- two MVP candidates -- fresh through October. Anything else will have to wait, although perhaps not too long.
The Giants host the Diamondbacks two more times this season at Oracle Park, and both of those series start after a built-in off day.