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Kapler explains why Gausman is Giants' Opening Day starter

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The Giants waited until the end of camp to officially announce their opening day starter, but this is a decision that's been easy to see coming since Nov. 11, when Kevin Gausman accepted the one-year qualifying offer. He'll start his second season with the Giants as their ace, the man who takes the ball April 1 in Seattle. 

Manager Gabe Kapler announced the assignment Wednesday, saying Johnny Cueto, last season's opening day starter, will pitch the second game. The rest of the rotation order is still to be announced.

"I think it's a huge honor for Kevin and very well deserved based on performances last year and some of his lights-out outings already this spring," Kapler said. "I'm really happy for him and excited to watch him pitch on opening day."

Gausman has started one previous opener, taking the ball for the Orioles in their first game in 2017. Asked recently about potentially kicking off the Giants season, he said it would "be a huge honor," but added he's always excited for the first start regardless of where he is in the rotation. 

"I feel honored taking the ball in any one of those first five games, being one of those top five guys, but yeah, it would be a lot of fun, for sure," he said. 

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Gausman made 12 appearances in his first season with the Giants -- 10 of which were starts -- and posted a 3.62 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 3.09 FIP and a career-best 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings. The Giants made the qualifying offer after the season and Gausman accepted, locking in a contract worth $18.9 million for the 2021 season. The sides discussed a multi-year deal at the time and said that could be revisited, but the 30-year-old Gausman said earlier this month that there have been no contract talks since the offseason. 

 

Kapler said he did have a conversation with Cueto, noting that he has the most service time in the rotation and "deserves and earned the type of respect to be communicated with." He said it was a good conversation. Cueto is lined up to pitch the home opener on April 9, signaling that the Giants will have a five-man rotation early on despite having two off days over their first eight days. 

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