Wednesday, May 9, 2012

San Francisco Giants: Which Pitcher Do They Start If They Had to Win One Game?

Oddly enough, this topic would never come up with a 15-15 record and concerns about defense and hitting, but the fact is that the tide on the mound is turning in San Francisco.  Not at the plate -- the lack of production and runs scored seems to be the only thing manager Bruce Bochy can count on these days.  But the best pitcher on one of the best rotations in the MLB has somewhat of a conflict at the top, and that is the best possible thing the Giants can hope for right now.

So who do the Giants throw on the mound if there was one game they had to win?

The usual suspects are the obvious choices.  Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum have been with San Francisco since the very beginning of their careers and have consistently put up numbers to back up the star status they have drawn over the past couple years.

However, Lincecum has faltered this season.  The contract talks over the offseason may have something to do with that, but GM Brian Sabean and Co. are looking pretty smart right now taking the evaluation route with Lincecum and the coveted lengthy contract he desired.

His old dominant stuff is no longer there, and it has caused him to forcibly make pitches instead of having that come as second-nature to him, which we have grown so accustomed to.  Back-to-back Cy Youngs will do that to a pitcher, though.

With Lincecum off to a rather disappointing start, it has appeared Cain has become the most prominent Giants player on the mound.  He has the name, the accuracy and even the ability to be clutch in the most serious of moments on the mound.

More than that, he has been easy to count on when his name is called every fourth or fifth day.

The same cannot be said of Lincecum, which is why it would be hard for Bochy to go with The Freak over The Horse right now.

Through all this, we seem to wipe Madison Bumgarner right under the rug.

No, he does not have the out-going personality and stuff on the mound that blows hitters away, but he will get the job done, as has been the case this season.

He is 5-1 with a 2.31 E.R.A. so far.

At just 22-years old, he has most assuredly become the future of the franchise on the bump with Cain.  Bumgarner now comes before Lincecum on the list of 'who the Giants should sign to contracts over five years.'

"He gave us what we needed," Bochy said after the win over the Brewers last week. "When you have a losing streak like this, you need someone to go out there and have a game like he did. He has a lot of confidence going right now."

The main asset in a pitcher that you want on the bump for one game that the team must win is reliability.  Can we count on this pitcher to go out and give us seven innings of solid pitching, while allowing less than two or three runs?

As of right now, Cain and Bumgarner are the only two pitchers that should be in that conversation.  The time in San Francisco for Lincecum is quickly coming to a halt, and the Giants know that.

However, if there was one pitcher that fits every need for the Giants for one game, it would have to be Cain.  He simply provides the team with confidence while on the mound.

Bumgarner has received at least four runs of support in every one of his starts this season, and Cain has received that in only three of his six starts, but there is a calmness when Cain is on the mound tat cannot be matched.  The Giants take assurance in that, but his 1-2 record simply does not show that, and that needs to change if this is to be a unanimous selection.

Cain is the wise choice in the given situation right now, but Bumgarner is not far off from quickly overtaking the top pitcher on the Giants' roster.

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