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Cueto and Samardzija to return this week; rookies to retain rotation spots for now

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The rotation is about to return to full strength.

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Giants announced a few minutes ago that Johnny Cueto would be starting Thursday’s home opener against the Cardinals and that Jeff Samardzija would make his return from the disabled list this Saturday.

They will have their at full strength for the first time all season and just a week before the All-Star Break; but the most important part of that is they’ve concluded their strength includes Andrew Suarez and Dereck Rodriguez. Madison Bumgarner’s scheduled Saturday start was pushed to Sunday, making Chris Stratton’s status a question.

He’ll have a tough job tonight in limiting the damage the Rockies will inflict on the hapless-in-Coors-Field Giants, and you have to figure that tonight’s outcome will determine his spot in the rotation going forward. But for now, Andrew Suarez will make his start in tomorrow’s finale at Coors and Dereck Rodriguez will get his next start this Friday, all three vying for the two remaining spots.

Derek Holland will move to bullpen immediately and according to Henry Schulman, serve as Cueto’s backup if he falters, unless Stratton or Suarez need emergency relief (which, let’s face it, is a very real possibility). This move in particular comes as a surprise because it means that the Giants have eschewed their veteran lean and simply looked at the performances and upside of the remaining contenders.

And then there’s one more thing to factor in:

The idea of the Giants moving Holland, Blach, and Johnson around like that feels very out of character for the Giants. You’d figure one of the three rotation guys (Stratton, Rodriguez, and Suarez), just based on the overwhelming history of the front office, but if it does shake out this way, then it would signal that the Giants are going to approach their modicum of success this season with vigor and really try to make the most of it.

Certainly, rushing Cueto and Samardzija back before the break is a sign that they really want to know what they have before the trade deadline. For all the fans who’ve been calling for Samardzija’s release, the Giants are certainly trying to put themselves in a position where they have to decide just exactly what they can do with him this season. You have to like their aggressiveness.