Giants’ right-hander Matt Cain has been selected as the fifth and final starter for the club’s 2017 rotation, according to MLB.com’s Chris Haft. The news comes as little surprise, despite the emergence of lefty rotation candidate Ty Blach this spring.
Blach made a convincing case for the No. 5 spot, giving up no more than two runs in all but one of his Cactus League outings and finishing the spring with a 4.22 ERA over 21 1/3 innings in camp. Cain, by comparison, labored through 25 1/3 innings with a 7.82 ERA, striking out 19 batters while allowing 23 runs. Those numbers come on the heels of one of Cain’s more disappointing runs with the Giants; in 2016, the veteran right-hander produced exactly 0.0 fWAR, lasting 89 1/3 innings with a 5.64 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 as he split duties between the rotation and bullpen.
Still, Cain is due $20 million in 2017 as he rounds out a five-year contract extension with the Giants. That, Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle says, is likely a significant factor that helped shape the back end of manager Bruce Bochy’s rotation, though things could change quickly if Cain struggles out of the gate. Blach, meanwhile, will wait in the bullpen, where Bochy estimates he’ll see some long relief opportunities and potential spot starts as the season wears on.
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets may move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base when he returns from the disabled list. Cabrera has been on the disabled list since June 13 with a sprained left thumb, but he’s expected to be activated on Friday.
Cabrera, 31, last played second base in 2014 with the Nationals. He has played shortstop exclusively as a Met the last two seasons. Jose Reyes would continue to play shortstop if the Mets were to go through with the position change. Cabrera would displace T.J. Rivera, who has been playing second base in place of the injured Neil Walker.
In 196 plate appearances this season, Cabrera is hitting .244/.321/.392 with six home runs and 20 RBI. He has made 11 defensive errors, which is tied for the third-most among shortstops behind Tim Anderson (16) and Dansby Swanson (12).
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.