What will we get from Wainwright, Lincecum?

918209.jpg

What will we get from Wainwright, Lincecum?

ST. LOUIS The Giants and Cardinals can shoot all the sunshine they want about their confidence in Tim Lincecum and Adam Wainwright.But in reality, neither side knows what to expect from the man they send to the hill in Game 4 Thursday night. The two formerly bankable aces are no longer backed by the FDIC.Wainwright got pounded for six runs in less than three innings by the Washington Nationals in his last start, serving up three home runs to put the Cardinals in what will go down as the most famous 6-0 hole in franchise history.And Lincecum, despite three squeaky clean long relief outings this postseason, had the highest ERA of any starting pitcher in the National League during the regular season.Lincecum might operate exclusively from the stretch. He might throw to Hector Sanchez and not Buster Posey. However he does it, the Giants need the same strike-throwing tendencies that Lincecum displayed while allowing one run, walking one and striking out eight this postseason.

UPDATE: Sanchez catching, Posey at first base
Itll be a major advantage if he doesnt have to face Carlos Beltran, who left Game 3 after one at-bat because of a left knee strain. Beltran is 7 for 14 with a home run, three doubles and just one strikeout (plus six walks, too) in his career against Lincecum.UPDATE: Carlos Beltran scratched from Game 4
Yadier Molina has been swinging a Popsicle this postseason but hes a .412 hitter (7 for 17, all singles) against Lincecum. Matt Holliday is a .294 hitter but doesnt have a home run in 34 career at-bats vs. the right-hander.Lincecum did not face the Cardinals in the regular season.

Wainwright was 6-8 with a 4.75 ERA through June but pitched much better in the second half, going 8-5 with a 3.18 ERA over his final 16 starts. Thats to be expected for a pitcher who missed all of 2011 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.Despite getting throttled by the Nationals in a memorable Game 5 of the NLDS, Wainwrights Game 1 start against them included 10 strikeouts and one run in 5 23 innings.While he doesnt throw as hard as he once did, Wainwrights curveball remains one of the best in the league and he has no discernable platoon split.Struggling right fielder Hunter Pence is a .289 hitter (11 for 38) against Wainwright and owns the only home run by an active Giant against him. Xavier Nady is a .391 hitter with only two strikeouts in 23 at-bats.Wainwright beat the Giants at Busch Stadium on Aug. 9, holding them to a run on five hits and three walks while striking out seven in seven innings of a 3-1 victory.This stage is nothing new to either starting pitcher. Lincecum is making his first postseason start since he won a clinching Game 5 at Texas in the 2010 World Series. And Wainwright, prior to his last blowup at Washington, owned a 0.77 ERA in 11 career postseason games (two starts), including a save in a clinching Game 5 when the Cards defeated the Detroit Tigers in the 2006 World Series.

Otani to MLB after 2017 season? 'We discussed the possibility'

Otani to MLB after 2017 season? 'We discussed the possibility'

TOKYO -- Japanese pitcher Shohei Otani says he could move to the major leagues after the 2017 season.

The 22-year-old right-hander, who has also put up big numbers at the plate, signed a $2.37 million contract for next season with the Nippon Ham Fighters on Monday.

Otani will not become eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season and will need the Fighters' approval to negotiate with a major league club through the posting system before that time.

He says "we discussed the possibility of me going. ... The club will respect my wishes whenever I decide I want to go."

Otani went 10-4 as a pitcher and batted .322 with a career-high 22 home runs this season for the Fighters.

New rules in MLB's collective bargaining agreement make it more difficult for players like Otani to get paid big bucks right away. But there is a definite curiosity about his abilities, even from those who haven't seen him play much.

"I don't know which side you're worried about more: his ability to pitch or hit," former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Hopefully he stays healthy because he's an addition whatever league he winds up with, whether he stays in Japan or comes to the U.S. he's certainly going to be an exciting player for people to look forward to watching."

Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was reluctant to talk about Otani because he's under contract in Japan. But he's intrigued about Otani's ability to pitch and hit.

"We have reports on him," Dombrowski said. "Do I think a player could be a two-way player? Yeah, it could happen. It is very difficult? Yes. But I'm not saying that there's not a player out there that can't do that because some of them are rare, rare guys. Babe Ruth could do it. He was pretty good. So it can be done."

Report: Giants 'among teams that have asked' about lefty reliever Howell

Report: Giants 'among teams that have asked' about lefty reliever Howell

The Giants added a huge piece to their bullpen Monday by signing closer Mark Melancon to a four-year deal. While much of the bullpen is complete, San Francisco's front office is reportedly keeping an open mind with a familiar reliever. 

San Francisco has reportedly asked about lefty reliever J.P. Howell, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Howell, who turns 34 in April, spent the last four seasons as a Giants rival with the Dodgers.

Last season coming out of the Dodgers' bullpen, Howell tossed 50.2 innings pitched and ended with a 1-1 record and 4.09 ERA. The year before, Howell posted a career-low 1.43 ERA. 

In just 13 appearances out of the bullpen -- 10.2 innings pitched -- Howell has struggled in his career at AT&T Park. The lefty has a 6.75 ERA in San Francisco, to go along with an 0-1 record. 

As a whole, the Giants' bullpen finished the 2016 regular season with a 25-24 record. The group's 3.65 ERA ranked ninth in the National League. 

Howell is seeking a one-year deal, according to Olney.