Cain, Peavy march toward crowded rotation

A couple of Giants heroes are on their way home. But their return poses a dilemma.

Matt Cain hurled 6-2/3 innings of two-run, six-strikeout ball for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats Saturday night, throwing 89 pitches to follow up a  a 3-1/3-inning, four-run start on Monday.

Jake Peavy threw 95 pitches in his seven-inning, three earned run start for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats on Wednesday.

Though Peavy appears closer to his Major League return than Cain, expect both to be butting their way into the starting rotation soon enough. Bochy told reporters in Seattle that Peavy is ready to return pending one last rehab start. Cain isn’t far behind.

The Giants will need to plunk these guys into a smoothly-running starting rotation. The scrappy starters and infallible relievers have brought the Giants to just one-half game out of first place. So is there room?

Of course there’s room. Like downing that last bit of extra chocolate milkshake in the frosty tin cup, there’s always room for more.

Some tough choices lie ahead for the front office to make that happen, though. Here’s how the pitching roster stands now:

Starting rotation: Madison Bumgarner (7-4, 3.09 ERA), Tim Hudson (4-6, 4.65 ERA), Chris Heston (6-5, 3.76 ERA), Tim Lincecum (7-3, 3.31 ERA) and Ryan Vogelsong (5-5, 4.38 ERA).

Bullpen: RHP Yusmeiro Petit, LHP Jeremy Affeldt, RHP George Kontos, LHP Javier Lopez, RHP Sergio Romo, RHP Santiago Casilla, RHP Hunter Strickland, RHP Mike Broadway.

We also have to consider Jean Machi, who threw one inning of scoreless relief Saturday for Sacramento and is ready to return from the DL early this week.

Expect a minor league return trip for Mike Broadway, and probably Hunter Strickland. They’ve got options, unlike Machi, and the move will push Vogelsong (or maybe Lincecum) back into the second long reliever spot along with Petit.

This move is no sure thing, though. Broadway and Strickland have provided much-needed power in the bullpen. The former has yet to give up a run and the latter is averaging about one hit per inning. Mike Krukow commented on Strickland’s dominance in his latest appearance:

“You may need some binoculars to see those numbers for Strickland.”

But Petit, Affeldt, Lopez and Romo are bullpen pillars, and Bochy has continued to show support for Kontos, who has allowed one run this June and been able to ice inherited runners.

It starts to get tricky once Cain returns. After the Peavy and Machi shift, Bochy and Co. will have to figure out how to make room for the one-time ace. That will require a move within the starting rotation.

Will it be Chris Heston? The rookie’s posted one of the best ERA’s on the starting squad and, about half his starts, dishes quality stuff. He has a no-hitter for crying out loud. He’s not perfect, but hard to squander.

Bochy loves his veterans; he isn’t one to punch an ego. But the recent McGehee demotion proves that the revamped front office isn’t afraid to be cutthroat. Maybe we’ll see some surprising performance-based moves in the near future.

Scutaro signs

The Giants signed Marco Scutaro and immediately placed him on the 60-day DL. This will allow Scutaro to retire in Orange and Black. The signing has no impact on the active or 40-man roster.

Scutaro kind of disappeared after his injury and surgery last year. He never really left but definitely had no plans to return. For all those wondering, he won’t play a second of baseball.


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