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Why Giants are using an opener ahead of big Rockies game

NBC Sports

With the final day of the regular season coming quickly, the Giants are going back to an approach they used during the opening series. 

The Giants waited until about five hours before first pitch at Oracle Park to announce their starting pitcher, and the choice was a surprise. Left-hander Caleb Baragar will make his first big league start and serve as an opener, with the bulk of Wednesday's innings left up to others. 

On the surface, the Rockies do not seem like a team susceptible to an opener. The same five players hit atop their lineup the last two nights -- with one slight change in order -- when the Giants started right-hander Johnny Cueto and then left-hander Drew Smyly. But Kapler and the Giants still saw a small edge. 

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"They do have a pretty consistent top of their lineup," Kapler said. "With Baragar, we feel confident that he's a guy that has the capability to come in and pound the strike zone and potentially get two left-handed hitters out for us. It doesn't always work out that way, but we're having Baragar start the game for at least that reason."

In theory, Baragar will get leadoff hitter Raimel Tapia -- a lefty -- out as well as Charlie Blackmon, who hit third against Cueto but cleanup against Smyly. Baragar was a starter in the minors and should have no problem extending past the first inning, which he'll need to do if he gets off to a good start. Tapia is hitting first and Blackmon is fourth, with right-handed-hitters Kevin Pillar and Trevor Story sandwiched in between. 

 
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While Kapler can't say it, this move may actually be as much about who isn't starting than who is. This was Logan Webb's turn, but Webb allowed six earned runs in his last start and has a 8.86 ERA in his last five appearances. Kapler said Webb is healthy and available Wednesday, though he would not say whether the hard-throwing right-hander would follow Baragar. 

"I won't take anything off the table," Kapler said.