Playoff baseball is finally arriving, and that means it is officially “Orange October” in San Francisco.
Fans will be on the edge of their seats and eyes will be glued to televisions all over San Francisco from the first pitch. The only question is—who will be throwing that first pitch?
A great pitching staff can put a team on its back and ride their team to the very end. The San Francisco Giants are set-up to go on another run in October with their stellar pitching staff.
To find the Giants game one starter, let’s start with a process of elimination.
Due to playoff inexperience and a rough ending of the season, Ryan Vogelsong is the first starter taken out of consideration. He has never pitched in the playoffs and the Giants have plenty of experience to put ahead of him.
To go along with Vogelsong’s inexperience, his September was horrible. In the last month of the season, Vogelsong went 2-2 with 6.46 ERA. He can’t be trusted in a crucial situation right now.
Yes, Barry Zito deserves to start game one before Vogelsong does, but he is the next one to go.
Zito has started seven playoff games in his time with the Oakland A’s, and put together a 4-3 record with a 3.25 ERA. Not dominant, but not bad at all.
What really makes Zito deserving of pitching in October is his stellar September. Zito went 4-0 with a 3.03 ERA in September.
So, now that we have those two out of the way, all that is left is the “Big 3.” Teams will be very aware of the 1-2-3 combo of Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum.
Next on our countdown is Tim Lincecum (a.k.a. Big Time Timmy Jim in the spirit of the playoffs). Lincecum has shown signs of a Cy Young pitcher and signs of Cy "Yuck" pitcher this year.
Lincecum will be in the starting rotation, and though he isn’t the most deserving of a game one start, he could very well catch fire in the playoffs. If you go back to when the Giants won the World Series in 2010, every fan absolutely loved Lincecum. Really, how couldn’t you?
When you go 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA, and 43 strikeouts in 37 innings, there is no doubting that you have a clutch gene in your body. That is exactly what Lincecum did in the 2010 playoffs and now he’s out to prove it again.
And then there were two.
The Giants have the luxury of having the option of starting either Madison Bumgarner or Matt Cain in game one of the playoffs. In this case, I am going with Matt Cain, which bring us to Madison Bumgarner as next on the countdown.
Bumgarner had a solid season, going 16-11 with a 3.37 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. Promising stats for the young lefty, but not a September to remember for Bumgarner.
In September, Bumgarner went 2-2 with a 5.47 ERA. Clearly, those numbers are not an indication of the pitcher that Bumgarner is, but luckily Bumgarner knows how to pitch in October.
Back in 2010, when he was barely old enough to drink alcohol, Bumgarner went 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA. Looks like the Giants have a solid No. 2 in the playoffs.
After all that, it is clear that Matt Cain should start game one of the playoffs for the Giants.
Cain has been a true Cy Young candidate all year for the Giants. He finished the season going 16-5 with a 2.79 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. Cain was consistent all year and fantastic down the stretch, going 3-0 with a 2.51 ERA in September.
If anyone can be trusted in the playoffs for the Giants, it’s Cain. In 2010, he went 2-0 as he pitched 21.1 straight innings without giving up an earned run. Truly remarkable.
The San Francisco Giants have the luxury of playing three very capable starters in the playoffs. After his memorable season and playoff pedigree, Matt Cain deserves to start Game 1.