San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy plans to start a pair of 16-game winners in the first two games of the National League division series. After that, he says he’s not sure what he’ll do.
Matt Cain will pitch Game 1 against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday and left-hander Madison Bumgarner will go in Game 2 on Sunday. The two tied for the team lead in victories and were instrumental down the stretch when San Francisco won the NL West for the second time in three years.
Two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and 15-game winner Barry Zito have also been key for the Giants. But Bochy said Thursday he’s unsure whether he’ll use the two in starting roles or out of the bullpen. That goes for Ryan Vogelsong as well.
“More than anything it’s really vital for us to have all hands on deck here the first two games,” Bochy said in explaining his reluctance to name a Game 3 starter. “If we want to use some guys in the rotation early here, then we’ll do that. We wanted to keep our options open.”
The uncertainty over the back end of the rotation might seem strange given that starting pitchers are creatures of habit and generally stay on a carefully mapped out throwing routine in between starts.
Zito, who was left off the Giants postseason roster entirely two years ago when the franchise won its first World Series title since 1954, doesn’t think that will be an issue.
The 34-year-old left-hander has started 172 games and made six relief appearances since signing a $126 million, seven-year contract with San Francisco before the 2007 season.
“I’ve [come] out of the bullpen many times as a starter here,” Zito said. “You change your routine going into it. You can’t be stupid about it. Other than that, if you’re on the mound you’re on the mound.”
The Giants gathered for a voluntary workout at AT&T Park and players took batting practice while Bumgarner threw a bullpen session as stadium workers hurried to get the stadium ready for Sunday’s Game 1.
Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker was a surprise visitor to the workout. Baker, the former Giants skipper who recently rejoined the Reds after missing 11 games while recovering from a mini-stroke and irregular heartbeat.
If Baker hoped to get an insight as to what the Giants plans are for their rotation, he was disappointed.
Cain, the NL starter in the All-Star game who earlier this season pitched the first perfect game in franchise history, was an easy call for Game 1. Likewise with Bumgarner, the 23-year-old who was second on the team in ERA, strikeouts and innings pitched.