Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday that Tim Lincecum would pitch an inning in the Giants’ spring opener against the Diamondbacks on Saturday. Hel also basically added that The Freak would be the Giants’ starter on Opening Day.
Madison Bumgarner will follow Lincecum in the spring rotation, and Bochy said that could be the way the rotation goes in the regular season, particularly if Ryan Vogelsong must open the season on the DL.
The reason for that is simple. If Vogelsong is not available to start the season, his likely replacement would Eric Surkamp, a lefty. So if Lincecum and Matt Cain (both righties) are 1-2, it would leave Bumgarner, Barry Zito and Surkamp (all lefties) at 3-4-5. Moving Mad-Bum into the No. 2 spot would break up that string of lefties.
But even if Vogelsong is ready, Bochy may use Bumgarner in the No. 2 spot as a lefty to break up Lincecum and Cain. He’s done it before with Zito and Jonathan Sanchez.
If Bochy does that, it could set up a situation for Cain to start the home opener against the Pirates on April 13. But that would involve Bochy using the scheduled day off on April 10 to skip over the No. 5 spot in the rotation, something Bochy hasn’t done a lot of in the past.
But in this case it would be smart on many levels.
It sets up Surkamp for a better situation for success. If Bochy just throws pitchers out in order 1-5 — and if Surkamp must make two starts in place of Vogelsong — it would mean his first two starts would come on April 11 at Colorado (not a friendly place for a young pitcher to make his season debut) and April 16 at home against the Phillies (yikes!). By using the day off to skip Surkamp in the rotation, his first start would come on April 15 at home against the Pirates, a much friendlier matchup. It would also mean the Giants would send Lincecum, Bumgarner and Cain against the Phillies.
It could allow for a situation in which Surkamp isn’t needed at all. Skipping the No. 5 spot in the rotation the first time through could give Vogelsong until the Giants’ ninth game of the season — on the 10th day of the season — to get ready. They could even put Vogelsong on the DL, back date the start of the 15 days into spring training, which would allow the Giants to carry an extra arm in the bullpen or an additional position player for the first nine games of the season before calling Vogelsong off the DL to start on April 15.
I know we’ve only started March, but it’s never too late to start planning.
Oh, also Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News had an interesting blog post about Bumgarner’s numbers in his first 52 MLB starts compared to other pitchers. See it here.