Giants right-hander Matt Cain will have one more chance to finish a disappointing, injury-marred season on a positive note.
Cain will start the Giants’ season finale Sunday against the Colorado Rockies, manager Bruce Bochy said. Yusmeiro Petit had been tentatively scheduled to start after Madison Bumgarner was shut down, but Petit pitched in relief Friday night. Ryan Vogelsong, another candidate for the spot-start, pitched four innings out of the bullpen Thursday.
The opportunity, then, falls to Cain, who made his last start August 25 and has pitched a total of three relief innings since then. Cain, who missed the first three months on the DL and experienced elbow nerve irritation in early September, has a 6.31 ERA this season in 55 2/3 innings.
"It’s been a rough year for Matty, dealing with all he’s had to deal with," Bochy said. "So this is a little bit of a sendoff for him -- just this year I’m talking about obviously. Let him start it, that way he can warm up like he normally does as a starter. We’ll see how far he goes."
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Cain is not stretched out and will be on short work, but as Bochy said, this is a chance for the right-hander to distance himself a bit from this season going into the winter and 2016. The Giants had hoped Cain would return from surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow and become a reliable member of the rotation again. With Cain under contract until 2017 at least, they still have that hope.
"I think anytime you have surgery, the more time away from the surgery, usually you see better results," Bochy said. "He’s pitched with those chips in there for a lot of years, now you take them out, it’s a little bit different. So this (offseason) will give him more time to make any adjustments he needs to. I don’t know any other way than to be optimistic with Matt Cain."
Still, Cain remains one of the relative unknowns in the Giants rotation heading into next season. Mike Leake, Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Lincecum are all heading for free agency, and Bochy said Saturday, "I think it’s fair to say we’ll be looking at starting pitching" in the offseason.
While Vogelsong was pretty open Thursday about the fact he doesn’t think he’ll be back in a Giants uniform next year, Bochy did not rule out the possibility. Vogelsong said the fact that Thursday’s appearance was just his fourth since August 29 showed the "writing is on the wall" regarding his ranking on the Giants’ priority list. But Bochy disputed that idea.
"I don’t know, I think he’s been used," Bochy said. "I know he’s probably disappointed he wasn’t out there every fifth day. But he went back in the rotation and we used him in the pen occasionally.
"We were in a tough spot, I told (the pitchers) that in a meeting, three, four days ago, with the number of pitchers we had, the starters, number of guys in the bullpen. I thanked them for being patient."
Vogelsong did come close to signing with the Houston Astros last winter before making an about-face and resigning with the Giants. And he did say of the potential for a repeat this offseason: "Crazier things have happened."
"Last year he might’ve felt that way too (about his chances of returning), I don’t know, yet here he signs with us and he got quite a few starts," Bochy said. "I think so much of Vogey, so I certainly don’t want him to look too much into (his workload)."
Bochy said Petit will be an option to relieve Cain on Sunday.
Saturday, it’s Jake Peavy making his final start of the season against the Rockies. The Giants’ lineup behind Peavy:
And the Rockies’ lineup behind left-hander Chris Rusin:
SS Cristhian Adames