Manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti set the starting rotation for the 2011 Giants. And here it is:
RH Tim Lincecum
LH Jonathan Sanchez
RH Matt Cain
LH Barry Zito
LH Madison Bumgarner
Now there are some who might object to this rotation, saying that Cain has earned the distinction of being No. 2 man, and that Zito is better placed at No. 5.
But there are several reasons this rotation is the best one.
1. The mix of RH-LH-RH-LH-LH offers different looks to opposing lineups. That different look of pitching behind Cain would put Zito in the best position to succeed. And don’t we all want Zito to succeed?
2. Stress on the bullpen. Lincecum and Cain are the two pitchers on the staff best equipped to pitch deep into a game. Putting them back-to-back would leave the bullpen susceptible to a heavy workload in consecutive games. Sanchez has the ability of pitching eight innings of two-hit ball one start and struggling to get out of the fifth inning the next. And, of course, Zito is the poster child for failing to get out of the fifth. Putting a workhorse like Cain in between the two is a good move.
3. Sanchez has earned the chance to supplant Zito in the No. 2 start with a strong finish last season.
4. Keeping Bumgarner at No. 5 lessens the taxing on his arm. Although, the Giants will not skip anyone in the rotation, so the benefit of this is diminished.
5. Moving Zito down in the rotation gives him a better chance at getting some improved run support because he’s facing the opposition’s No. 4 pitcher. Run support has been a problem for Zito. Now he gets to go against the likes of, for example, the Dodgers’ Jon Garland, instead of Chad Billingsley.
All good reasons. Now, let’s see if it works. And let’s hope (knock on wood) that there’s no reason to change this rotation between now and March 31.