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.