Giants playoffs: Sizing up Reds, Nats pitching rotations

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Giants playoffs: Sizing up Reds, Nats pitching rotations

We are, and youll forgive the conclusion-jumping just this once, growing perilously close to the dream scenario Giants fanhistorians have had for a decade.Trying to beat Dusty Baker in the playoffs. And him trying to beat the Giants.Either that, or the Giants will become the first team to test the new and as-yet-unproven Disappearing Strasburg Effect.But first, your required caveat. This NL West thing is not yet over, you are wrong to think it is, and if you say it where someone else can hear you, may you be struck with a fully-loaded beer stein while in church.That said, the locals widened their lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers to a healthy six full games the equivalent of having a weeks head start in a three-week race. This would seem to eliminate the need for further Should-We-Make-Lincecum-The-Closer-Or-Just-Shoot-Him-And-Be-Done-With-It scenarios.It would also eliminate facing the wild-card winner, which for the moment looks like Atlanta-vs.-Somebody. That leaves only two options for playoff openers. The De-Strasburged Washingtons, or the Re-Vottod Cincinnatis.And the Giants are 3-9 against the Nats and Bakers, so pace at your will.Cincinnati is about to clinch the Central, being up 10 on St. Louis and all, and Washington has 7 on Atlanta. Thus, if you must assume the Giants are in (duck!), you must also assume the others are in as well. And that the Giants cant catch either of them. Very tenuous stuff, this assuming thing, but were writing today and not a week from now, so play along, damn it.RELATED: MLB Wild Card standings
Thus, the real race now is to see whether the Nationals or Reds finish with the best record and draw the wild-card winner, which will come from a field that surely includes Atlanta and could also field St. Louis, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and maybe even the resurgent Philadelphia or Milwaukee. Arizona is only five back, but its hard to extend the spirit of hope and charity that deep into the standings.But lets return to the local issue (well get to the Fightin McCarthys across the Bay tomorrow). Whether the Giants would rather face a team without Stephen Strasburg or with Dusty Baker.And now, lets project.Assuming that neither Bruce Bochy (who never does), Davey Johnson nor Baker changes their rotation between now and the playoffs, they would send this group of starters in this order:WASHINGTON
Ross Detwiler (9-6, 3.23): Years from now, youll ask yourself, Who was their fourth starter? You wont remember the answer.

Edwin Jackson (9-10, 3.85): Has the worst WHIP, and its a very tolerable 1.21.

Gio Gonzalez (19-7, 2.93): Worth every dime the As would never have paid him.

Jordan Zimmermann (10-8, 3.01): The example the Nationals use when defending the Strasburg move. Hes good.CINCINNATI
Homer Bailey (10-9, 4.03): Most likely to be dropped, in favor of Mike Leake (8-9, 4.69).

Bronson Arroyo (12-7, 3.66): Nasty when aroused. It means hes a good pitcher, but I wanted to see if you were paying attention.

Johnny Cueto (17-8, 2.71): Their best.

Mat Latos (12-4, 3.72): A beloved favorite of Giant fans, beat them twice this year.

SAN FRANCISCO
Madison Bumgarner
Tim Lincecum
Matt Cain
Barry Zito or Ryan VogelsongYou dont need the stats. Youve memorized them. And youre allowed to argue Zito-Vogelsong until youre blue in the mouth. Just watch those steins.But this would mean that Game 3 would feature the best pitching matchups, and we cannot guarantee that the three teams might not take the extra days between clinching and the playoff openers October 6 or 7 to realign their rotations.Oh, youll still get Cain v. Cueto or Cain v. Gonzalez (or Strasburg, if Washington general manager Mike Rizzo can convince Scott Boras to vacation in the bottom of the Sargasso Sea for a month), but just earlier.Either way, it looks like the Giants will be playing against a team that has had its way with them while they had Webmaster Melky Cabrera in the lineup.And Dusty Baker there to bring up all the good and weird history that was the Giants of the 90s and early Oughts. So many laughs. So many tears. So many lies, and so many lies to cover up the original lies. Playoff baseball at its finest.And in the meantime, so many variables, so much pre-series nonsense, and so much Web space to fill. In all, life is good, as long as nobody is menacing you with a stein.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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.