Everyone who witnessed the 2012 season saw Matt Cain throw a perfect game, win two postseason series finales and calmly throw the team on his back over and over again. The guy has earned the opening day start.
On the other hand, the guy the San Francisco Giants had gotten used to tossing the ball to every April, Tim Lincecum, saw a decline in performance in 2012 and found his postseason contributions coming out of the bullpen rather than matching up with the oppositions starting pitching. So, again, no shock or waves coming out of the bay.
The real question is: Where will Timmy end up in the rotation? And could the former two-time Cy Young Award winner actually be the fifth starter for the San Francisco Giants?
We know are that Bruce Bochy likes to stagger right-handed and left-handed starters and Matt Cain will get the ball on April 1. If those two things are true, we can then make a reasonable assumption that last year’s No. 2, Madison Bumgarner , will hold that same position in the rotation.
After Bumgarner, however, the next three spots in the rotation seem to be a bit of a mystery.
If Bochy wants to stagger his right-handed and left-handed starters, he should absolutely do so, and feel lucky to have that ability. Not every club has that option. Not every club has the luxury of deciding whether its two Cy Young Award winners should be their third, fourth or fifth starter.
So the question remains: which of the Giants two right-handed pitchers should be the No. 3 starter? On one hand you have Ryan Vogelsong, a regular season 14-game winner with a 3.37 ERA and owner of a 1.09 ERA in three postseason wins in 2012.
On the other hand, there’s Timmy. I don’t need to rehash the woes and worries that Timmy saw in 2012, we all know. But everything Timmy has done over the years, and how he selflessly accepted a move to the bullpen during last year’s championship run, igniting the AT&T crowd every time he leapt up out of the dugout in the late innings; isn’t that worth something?
If Barry Zito is the No. 4 starter, fans and analysts will want to weigh in on the value of each players’ past contributions and why those numbers are deserving of the No. 3 spot in the rotation. This is what fans and analysts do. We talk about the past and why it matters so much, and we talk about which storylines make us feel the best.
We want Rudy to be real life.
Bruce Bochy’s won’t choose his starters based on what they did in the past, how heart-warming their story is or how dapper his right-hander’s new haircut looks. The third slot in the rotation has yet to be determined and will be won this spring. Which should be good news for Giants fans, as they say; strong competition breeds success.