Giants predictably pick Matt Cain as Game 1 playoff starter

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One of the nice things about clinching a playoff spot early is that you can line up your rotation optimally and the Giants are doing just that, with manager Bruce Bochy announcing that Matt Cain will start Game 1 of the NLDS.

When that will be and who that will be against isn’t known yet, but Cain getting the series-opening nod is obviously anything but a surprise.

Cain made his final regular season start last night against the Dodgers and was on a pitch count, exiting after five innings of two-run ball.

In addition to throwing a perfect game on June 13 he also started the All-Star game for the National League and finishes the season with a career-best 2.79 ERA and 193/51 K/BB ratio in 219 innings.

No official announcement has been made beyond Cain, but Madison Bumgarner figures to start Game 2 and the Giants have already said they’ll find spots for all five starters (Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito) on the playoff roster.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.