Rather than go back to their ace on short rest, the Giants plan to start Barry Zito against the Reds if they extend the NLDS to four games, manager Bruce Bochy announced Monday.
The Giants picked Zito over Matt Cain even though it would be a do-or-die situation. Down 2-0 in the best-of-five series, they need to win Tuesday’s Game 3 with Ryan Vogelsong on the mound just to get to Game 4.
The guess here is that if it were a winner-take-all game, the Giants would go with Cain over Zito. However, they probably feel better about their chances of winning two games with Zito and Cain on regular rest than Cain and Madison Bumgarner on short rest, particularly after Bumgarner struggled last night.
Besides, Zito has been their good-luck charm these last two months. The Giants have won each of his last 11 starts, even though Zito has a 3.91 ERA during the span. Overall, Zito was 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA this season. He went 0-1 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts against the Reds.
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.