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State of the Rotation

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TAKE THAT, FLOPPY MCGEE! J-RICH UP IN YOUR FACE WITH THE REJECTION AND LALALAOINUB;VNO OHMFG BARNES WITH THE DAGGER THREE! PUT IN FOYLE! PUT IN FOYLE!

Sorry. I set my brain to the "Remember Yesterday's Game"-setting, and the signals got crossed.

We've now seen the range of Barry Zito: no runs to seven runs, all crammed into six or seven innings, but usually erring on the effective side of the ledger. We've also seen the range of Matt Cain: one hit or two, all couched within that cocoon of average upside. He has a real good chance to be the next Mark Gardner or John Thomson.

The rest of the rotation is where the debate comes in, though. Noah Lowry's last start was a best-case Lowry performance. His control was working well enough to keep him away from three-ball counts, and he was throwing his curve and change effectively. The change was especially nice to see, as Lowry usually only has full custody of it for August. A lot of whatever preseason optimism could be mustered had to do with a possible Lowry rebound, and it would be oh-so-nice to get dependable pitching from another pitcher who is locked up for the future.

As for the last two: ERAs be damned, it seems more realistic right now that Tim Lincecum is going to take Matt Morris's rotation spot than that of Russ Ortiz. I was harsh on the Russ Ortiz idea when he was still a winter ball myth, harsher still when the Giants actually took a chance on him, but everyone started to warm up to him after his dominating spring. The reports of increased velocity were not exaggerated, and he's looked like the Russ of old: a pitcher who was almost a lock for 200 innings with an ERA between 3.00 and 4.00. Maybe he'll have a Jamey Wrightastic blowup, but he hasn't given any indication that will happen.

Morris has looked like Morris. Nibble, nibble, nibble, CURVE. Nibble, CURVE, CURVE, CURVE, nibble. The only difference between this Morris and last year's version is that Morris has only allowed one home run this season. That rate will change. It isn't realistic for the Giants to ship him off now, and that's perfectly understandable, but it's plausible to concoct a scenario where the Giants get a surprising amount of value for Morris. It's also plausible to concoct a scenario where Morris is released into the arms of a team hoping for the next Dustin Hermanson.

Too early to talk about, probably. But this is a dead pool kind of thread. Does Morris or Ortiz move over for Lincecum? Or does Lincecum, gasp, get buried in some sort of inconsistent relief role? I'd prefer he just hung out in Fresno if it came to that. It isn't a bad problem to have.