Oct 29, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner heads to the dugout after retiring the Kansas City Royals in the fifth inning during game seven of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
3. July 3 – 5 vs. San Francisco Giants
The Nationals will have to wait until July for their first shot at the defending World Series champions, when the Giants will make the trip to the District for a three game tussle. This will offer a chance for Washington to measure itself against the best in baseball, which is why this series makes the list.
Yes, yes, I’m well aware that this “isn’t the same team as last year.” The Giants will be without Pablo Sandoval and several other key pieces from their title run, so how can this possibly provide any sort of information on the state of the Nats?
The answer to that lies in what the Giants do still have. They still have their manager, Bruce Bochy, and they still have their Face of the Franchise in Buster Posey. Assuming that his arm (amazingly) still hasn’t fallen off after pitching ten thousand innings in the World Series, Madison Bumgarner will be there, too. That’s certainly enough to get a decent estimate of what sort of mettle the 2015 Nationals are playing with around midseason.
Of course, that isn’t foolproof, either. The Nationals actually went 5-2 in the regular season against the Giants before being chased out of the NLDS by the eventual champs. Winning this series won’t be quite the same sort of revenge that winning a playoff series against San Francisco would be, so I’m only slotting this at number three.