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Who will the Giants remove from the starting rotation when everyone's healthy?

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Short answer: Not everyone is likely to all be healthy at the same time.

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Jake Peavy is pitching in the Giants' instructional league, now. After that, a rehab start or three. Then he would ostensibly would be ready to come back to the rotation.

Matt Cain probably won't return quite as quickly, but he's hoping to come back at or around the All-Star break, possibly a little before.

The question before you: What in the heck happens in two months if/when both pitchers are healthy?

It's too early to speculate, so let's speculate. The rotation is currently Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong, and Chris Heston. Two of them will have to be removed for the rotation if both Peavy and Cain get put back in, and it's hard to figure out what the Giants are going to do. Let's reach into the darkest of nether regions and pull out some odds on who will lose their spot.

Madison Bumgarner

Really, if you're Bruce Bochy, and you've already won three championships, what are you playing for? He probably has some reasons like "he likes managing a baseball team" or "he enjoys being the successful manager of a baseball team," but at some point, doesn't he want something different? Here would be a chance to melt the Internet, to set talk radio on fire. All he would have to do is just make Bumgarner a long reliever.

Wouldn't that be magical for, like, an hour? Bochy would have to make comments like, "We feel Bum gives us another late-inning option for the close games" without laughing. Even better, start he could start using Petit in the close games, and then use Bumgarner in the blowouts.

I think a really bored manager would be a riot. But maybe I'm just complacent and fat from success, wanting to try new things.

Odds: 30,000,000 to1

Tim Hudson

Hudson is more than halfway toward his dinger totals from last year, when he made 31 starts and allowed just 15 homers. That's because the sinker is up, up, up, and it's also a little slower than it's been in the past. There's no evidence to suggest that Hudson is on anything other than a downward slope, and he's allowed as many runs as anyone on the staff. Over the last 365 days, Hudson is 6-14 with a 4.34 ERA, and hitters are batting .295/.338/.438 off him.

On the other hand, he's quite nearly a Hall of Famer, and you know how much Bochy loves his veteran presence. Just keep Huddin' away, Huddy, and those grounders will find gloves.

Odds: 8 to 1

Tim Lincecum

Dude didn't even have to compete for a spot in the rotation. Throughout last October, the Giants treated him as if he would come into a game and accidentally eat the entire postseason. Like, gnaw through the fabric of space-time and eat the postseason and our general existence. I don't even understand how that would happen, but that's why they have physicists, and they're the ones who probably warned the Giants of what might happen, so the Giants agreed and buried him.

Five months later, he didn't even have to compete for a spot in the rotation. Now he has an ERA under 3.00. Like fun he's coming out of this rotation without six awful starts in a row. Wait, Tim, that wasn't a dare!

Odds: 10 to 1

Ryan Vogelsong

The current reverse-leader in ERA wasn't in the rotation to start the season, so he's likely to be one of the serious contenders to be chopped. Except a) he looked miserable in relief, and b) he has a 1.37 ERA in May. Now, that comes with an ugly strikeout-to-walk ratio and an unsustainable batting average on balls in play, but those three starts have at least made him a candidate to stay.

Odds: 2 to 1

Chris Heston

An obvious choice to make room before he pitched well. A breakdown of his starts:

  • Five good-to-excellent starts
  • Three disasters

That's it, disasters and impressive outings, with the latter coming with more frequency. The Giants are 5-3 in Heston's outings, as you might expect. Statistically, though, he might be the Giants' second-best starter. The strikeouts and walks check out, which means his FIP is one of the best on the team. I'm not sure what happens when the league adjusts, but for now, there's a chance that Heston is one of the better pitchers in the rotation. How do you remove someone like that?

Odds: 3 to 1

Jake Peavy

The funny thing about Peavy is that he was one of the reasons Giants fans were optimistic about the postseason. Remember that, just a few months ago? People were like, "Oh, sure you'll have Madison Bumgarner and Jake Peavy, but after that, the Giants are in trouble!" Then he was good-if-sketchy in his first postseason start, pitching as well as we might have hoped. Then three lackluster postseason starts, a bad spring, and two awful regular season starts later, and people are ready to give up on Peavy completely.

I'm not immune to that pessimism, and I can't figure out why. Was it the awful first half with the Red Sox last year? The general-okayness of his year before that? He was really good for the Giants last year, remember. Really, really good. But if he gets shelled in his rehab starts, I could see the argument for him coming back in relief. There's just something about him that I'm not trusting, and it sure feels like most of the people with Giants opinions are feeling the same way.

Odds: 6 to 1

Matt Cain

Same thing up there applies to Cain. There's a chance he doesn't impress on his long road back, and either a phantom injury (or real one) makes this whole exercise moot.

I will say, though, that when it comes to all of the pitchers up there, Cain is the weirdest to think of as a reliever. Lincecum? We've seen it. Vogelsong? We've seen it, and it sorta makes sense. Hudson? Pretty weird, alright, but I can picture it. Not Cain, though. He's the horse, the guy who is (well, was) good for 200 innings every year, unfailingly. Making him a reliever would be like casting Paul Thomas Anderson in the lead role for a movie. Might work out, but would still be an odd thing to get used to.

Odds: 4 to 1

N/A - The Giants will make a surprisingly easy choice

Ding. This is the default option of "something will happen" that is the likely winner. Someone will get hurt. Someone will start stinking horribly. In a month or two, we'll probably be able to laugh at this post, this naïveté. The Giants were never going to have eight viable pitchers (including Yusmeiro Petit). There were always going to be casualties, whether through performance or health.

Odds: even

I'll guess that Vogelsong won't be in the rotation by the trading deadline, but that's as far as I'll go. The Giants have a weird problem, this certain quantity of uncertain quality. We'll see how they handle it over the next two months.