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The end-of-the-season rotation

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From Extra Baggs:

Many Giants fans have strong notions about what the coaching staff should do with those pieces, namely the starting pitchers. For now, the Giants simply plan to stay on turn, and give everyone an extra day of rest after Monday’s day off.

That would mean Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum against the Arizona Diamondbacks (vs. Rodrigo Lopez, Ian Kennedy and Barry Enright).

And Barry Zito, Matt Cain and Sanchez against the Padres (vs. Clayton Richard, Tim Stauffer and Mat Latos).

That doesn’t sit well with folks who’d rather see Lincecum, their ace, face the Padres – especially over Zito, whom they don’t trust in a big game.

I was actually planning on posting about this today, so I was bummed when I saw that Andrew Baggarly had gotten there first. Then I read all of the different permutations and the Mobius strips of reasoning that went along with each one, and I wasn’t bummed anymore. I’m glad I didn’t have to write all that.

So here are Baggs’s three scenarios, dumbed down for morons like me. Wait, morons like I. Wait...

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Scenario #1 – As-is

Tuesday vs. Arizona – Jonathan Sanchez
Wednesday vs. Arizona – Madison Bumgarner
Thursday vs. Arizona – Tim Lincecum
Friday vs. San Diego – Barry Zito
Saturday vs. San Diego – Matt Cain!
Sunday vs. San Diego – Jonathan Sanchez

Starter for a possible tie-breaker against San Diego or Atlanta on Monday– Tim Lincecum on short rest, or Madison Bumgarner

Scenario #2 – We’d also like some of that $126M back, please

Tuesday vs. Arizona – Sanchez
Wednesday vs. Arizona – Bumgarner
Thursday vs. Arizona – Zito
Friday vs. San Diego – Lincecum
Saturday vs. San Diego – Cain
Sunday vs. San Diego – Sanchez

Starter for a possible tie-breaker against San Diego or Atlanta – Zito on short rest for amusement purposes, or Madison Bumgarner

Scenario #3 – Rejiggerin’ for the one-game playoff or Game 1

Tuesday vs. Arizona – Sanchez
Wednesday vs. Arizona – Lincecum (regular rest because of the off day)
Thursday vs. Arizona – Bumgarner
Friday vs. San Diego – Zito
Saturday vs. San Diego – Cain
Sunday vs. San Diego – Sanchez

Starter for a possible tie-breaker against San Diego or Atlanta - Lincecum

Ohhhh. I get it now. By moving Lincecum up a day, you have everyone on their regular rest, but you’re better positioned to have Lincecum start the one-game playoff or the first game of a potential playoff series. Baggarly does point out that Barry Zito would have to pitch against the Padres in this last scenario, which is why a lot of folks want to switch around the rotation in the first place. A quick review of that concern:

Barry Zito is going to have to pitch in an important game, Padres or no. That’s the real problem. And he hasn’t been absolutely dreadful his last two starts – more unlucky than awful, really.

I have issues with setting a rotation with the express goal of shutting down the Padres. The Padres do that very well on their own. And by moving Zito up to face the Diamondbacks, you’re setting him up to pitch against a team with a bunch of hitters who can take a walk and hit for power.

Put me down for scenario four, actually:

Scenario #4 – You know it’s what you really want

Tuesday vs. Arizona – Tim Lincecum
Wednesday vs. Arizona – Matt Cain
Thursday vs. Arizona – Matt Cain
Friday vs. San Diego – Tim Lincecum
Saturday vs. San Diego – Matt Cain
Sunday vs. San Diego – Matt Cain

Starter for a possible tie-breaker against San Diego or Atlanta – Tim Lincecum, with Matt Cain available for extra innings when the Giants don’t score

Quite nice. Seriously, though, give me the Baggscenario, #3. All of the starters would pitch just as often, with Sanchez the only one who goes twice, but Lincecum would be available for whatever important game might come after October 3rd.

Also, I think the Giants should go ahead and win a lot of games in the next week, no matter what the rotation is. They shouldn’t feel awkward about it. That would be swell.