It's official: Matt Cain will start Game 1 of NLDS

It's official: Matt Cain will start Game 1 of NLDS
October 2, 2012, 1:00 am
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LOS ANGELES -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy didn't announce Matt Cain as his Game 1 starter so much as casually drop it in conversation with beat reporters Monday afternoon.

Nevertheless, the obvious is now official: Cain will take the ball and be charged with setting the tone for the NL West champions in a division series opener, almost certainly to be held Saturday at AT&T Park.

"It's fair to say he's the No.1 guy right now," Bochy said of Cain, who will make his 32nd and final regular-season start Monday night at Dodger Stadium. "The way he's thrown the ball all year, he started the All-Star Game ... he's been really consistent all season."

And, for one night on June 13, he was perfect. He became the 22nd major leaguer -- and the first Giant in the franchise's 129-year history -- to throw a perfect game.

Cain (16-5, 2.77) has a chance to become the club's first 17-game winner since Tim Lincecum won 18 in 2008. He also could join Lincecum and Jason Schmidt as the only Giants starting pitchers (minimum 10 decisions) to post a winning percentage of at least .770 in a season. He's also nine strikeouts away from reaching 200 for the first time in his career.

Monday's start against the Dodgers will be Cain's final tune-up before the postseason but he already looks locked in, having posted a 6-0 record and 2.18 ERA over his last nine starts.

The rest of the Giants' playoff rotation is less settled, although Bochy already has a Game 2 starter in mind. It'll be a huge surprise if it's anyone other than Madison Bumgarner. The manager expected to make that decision public within 48 hours.

And after that? Bochy acknowledged the possibility of remaining TBA on his starters for Game 3 and beyond, saying he could use a starter for an inning of relief in Game 1.

"We're set up to go any way," Bochy said.

The Giants also would like to reserve the right to alter his pitching plans depending on the outcome of the first two games.

For now, Bochy agreed that it's a good thing the Giants are facing a Dodgers team that is still holding on to thin playoff hopes. It's the first time the Giants have faced a contending team with some frontline pitchers in almost a month.

"This series is a big series," Bochy said. "I'd rather play a series like this with fans that are into it. This series means a lot. It's going to be loud."

BAGGARLY: Giants-Dodgers -- What to watch for

As a reminder, the Giants can eliminate the Dodgers with a victory combined with a Cardinals win.

Bochy planned to play his starters regardless of the playoff picture in this series, and he acknowledged his starting nine could be a preview of his postseason lineup. He's got Xavier Nady in left field against a right-handed pitcher.

"Really, the only difference would be (Gregor) Blanco or Nady," Bochy said.

What about vs. a left-hander? Would Brandon Crawford be his shortstop?

"I'm not going to answer that right now," said Bochy, who paused. "Good chance of it, though."

The Giants will have a workout Thursday afternoon at AT&T Park but it'll be a light session with no simulated game activity planned.

"I'd be surprised if it goes more than an hour," Bochy said.

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