San Francisco Giants Set Rotation to Open Second Half

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 19: Starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner
KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 19: Starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner /

The San Francisco Giants will attempt to get back to playing respectable baseball in the second half, and they have set their rotation to do so.

After battling through one of the worst first halves in franchise history, the San Francisco Giants are set to flip the script after the All-Star break. In preparation, they have set their second-half rotation, with one exciting addition.

Johnny Cueto will open the series against the San Diego Padres, and will be followed by the returning Madison Bumgarner. Jeff Samardzija will pitch the final game in San Diego before the team heads back home to host the defending American League champion Cleveland Indians for three games. Matt Moore and Ty Blach will finish out the rotation turn before Cueto takes the mound again.

Cueto has not pitched very well thus far this season, with a 4.51 ERA and 1.370 WHIP that are on pace to be his worst full-season totals since 2009. But each time Cueto takes the mound over the next two-plus weeks will be a showcase as the Giants try to figure out which players can be moved when the trade deadline comes.

Bumgarner made just four starts in April before his infamous dirt bike accident that cost him nearly three months of the season. The lefty ace made three rehab starts over the past few weeks, with the most recent coming last Sunday with the San Jose Giants. In that start, he pitched six innings and threw 86 innings and allowed one unearned run on two hits and a walk while striking out eight.

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Samardzija is coming off a great first half, despite a deceivingly rough record and ERA. His 1.153 WHIP is the second-best mark of his career, and he has shown impeccable command. He leads the league with a 9.1 strikeout-to-walk rate, and his 1.1 walks-per-nine-innings rate is the lowest in the league.

Moore has gone through a miserable half, owning the worst ERA for a starting pitcher in baseball at 6.04. However, with two more team options beyond this season, the team is giving Moore a chance to work through his issues this year as a starter instead of sending him to the bullpen.

Blach was a bright spot in a dismal first half, establishing himself as a solid starting option in Bumgarner’s absence. One of the best moments of the year came on June 2nd, when Blach threw his first career complete game shutout, so far the only shutout of the year for Giants’ pitching. He will get an opportunity to further entrench himself in the rotation in the second half.

That leaves Matt Cain as the odd man out, and he will move to the bullpen rather than stay in a six-man rotation. With a buyout looming after the season, it’s now possible that Cain has already made his final start as a Giant. Now in his 13th season, all with San Francisco, Cain has started 325 games and has amassed over 2,000 innings pitched, making him the 12th player in franchise history to reach that milestone.

But of course, nothing is set in stone in regards to the rotation. Cain could still step in in case of injury, or the team could give Cain one more start later in the year, sort of as a last hurrah. Either way, he has earned the right to say goodbye to the fans before the inevitable split.

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The Giants enter the second half as the second-worst team in baseball, and are staring up at the Padres in the standings. They will have an opportunity to make up some ground there to open the latter half of the year.