Wait — there's a debate about who the Giants' fourth starter will be in the NLCS?

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So I’m reading Andrew Baggarly’s game story in the Mercury
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and I come across this passage:

Will the Giants keep Bumgarner as their No. 4 starter against the Phillies, or turn to Barry Zito? That’s a terrific question.

In that same vein:

  • Will children continue to eat delicious chocolate cake at birthday parties, or will they turn to leek soup? That’s a terrific question.
  • Will young lovers’ romantic nights on the town continue to end in passionate love making, or will they turn to coming home to do laundry and balance the checkbook? That’s a terrific question.
  • Will Craig continue to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” every Christmas Eve while enjoying a cocktail and reflecting on the past year of his life, or will he instead watch the entire run of “According to Jim” episodes on DVD while repeatedly hitting himself in the stones with a rubber mallet? That’s a terrific question.

In September and October — when the Giants were in a playoff race, mind you — Madison Bumgarner started five games. In those games he pitched 32 innings. In those innings he struck out 32 men, walked only four and posted an ERA of 1.13.  Last night, in a clinching playoff game, on the road, he threw six effective innings.

In contrast, Barry Zito started six games, and lasted only 29 innings in September and October. He struck out 28 men during that period and walked 18 with an ERA of 4.66. If you throw in his seventh start that number goes up to 6.06. In his last start of the season — a game which could have clinched the NL West — he twice walked men with the bases loaded and left to a chorus of boos. For his efforts, he was left of the Division Series roster.

If there’s anyone out there who thinks “will Bumgarner or Zito start Game 4” is a “terrific question,” I’d truly like to meet them. I’d like to ask them about the world they live in and whether it’s anything like our own.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.