San Francisco Giants: 3 pitchers that could help the team’s starting rotation down the stretch

By Matthew Connolly
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Sep 20, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Andrew Cashner (34) is congratulated by teammates after being taken out of the game during the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Starting pitching has defined the San Francisco Giants in all of their championship winning seasons.

This year, it might be what prevents them from making the playoffs in the first place.

As the calendar turns to September, a number of key players should be returning from injury. In fact, there’s a good chance three of them—Brandon Crawford, Angel Pagan and Joe Panik—come back in the Giants’ make-or-break series with the Dodgers that starts on Monday.

But the bigger issue for San Francisco is a rotation that was once thought to have a surplus of quality arms. Outside of Madison Bumgarner, who had a fantastic August, Mike Leake and Jake Peavy, it’s hard to say who Bruce Bochy will rely on as his No. 4 and No. 5 starters.

Matt Cain, who had an ERA over eight in August, will likely be shut down following his stint on the DL. Ryan Vogelsong has put together a decent year, but has failed to get past the fifth inning in his last two starts. Neither has rookie Chris Heston, who was absolutely clobbered by the Cardinals on Sunday to the tune of five earned on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.

The Giants could roll with Vogey and Hesto the rest of the way, but there are a few other options they could consider.

Let’s break them down, shall we?

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