UPDATE: It’s official, Zito will start Game 1.
There’s no official word yet on the Giants’ rotation for the World Series, but Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports that Barry Zito is likely to get the call for Game 1 against the Tigers.
He’d face Justin Verlander in a matchup of former Cy Young winners (which sounds perfectly normal except for the part about Zito winning his in 2002).
That represents a helluva turnaround for a guy who was left off the postseason roster during the Giants’ run to the World Series in 2010, but Zito came up huge with 7.2 shutout innings in Game 5 of the NLCS and according to Baggarly “word around the team is that Zito deserves the honor.”
Zito struggled against right-handed hitters all season, allowing them to bat .281 with an .823 OPS (compared to .209 with a .559 OPS versus lefties), so matching up with a Detroit lineup that includes righties Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, Delmon Young, Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante, and Avisail Garcia isn’t ideal. Of course, the same was even more true of a Cardinals lineup filled with good right-handed bats and Zito shut them down.
Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.
When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.
Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.