In what was likely his last long start of spring training, Chris Stratton made a strong statement to the San Francisco Giants that he deserves to be in the starting rotation.
There wasn’t much doubt entering Thursday’s contest with the Chicago Cubs that Stratton would be in the rotation, but there is no question now.
He lasted six innings, giving up 3 earned runs on 6 hits and 2 walks with 7 strikeouts as the Giants won 4-3. If the Giants can get that kind of effort from Stratton every fifth day, we’ll be fine.
And the Cubs used what will likely be their Opening Day lineup.
Stratton now has a 4.03 ERA in 22.1 innings pitched this spring, which is about where I expect him to be during the season. He’s allowed 21 hits and 6 walks, while punching out 25 — over a batter an inning.
He will likely get one more start before the season begins — most likely Tuesday against the Oakland Athletics.
At this point I feel very comfortable going into the season with Stratton as our fourth or fifth starter. I couldn’t have said that at the beginning of spring training.
Other highlights from Thursday’s game include:
Strong bullpen performance: One of my biggest concerns down the stretch has been the bullpen. But Osich, Melancon and Strickland combined to pitch three scoreless innings, while not allowing a hit. Neither Strickland or Osich has given up a run all spring, while Melancon brought his ERA down to 2.25.
Utility battle: It’s getting harder and harder for those fighting for that last bench spot to make a statement with the starters getting more reps. Kelby Tomlinson and Josh Rutledge both received one at-bat. Rutledge was the one who picked up a hit, elevating his strong resume to make this team.
Posey on Fire: You always want to see your best players get hot right before the regular season begins. That’s certainly the case for Buster Posey who hit a 3-run home run on Thursday. He’s now hitting .520 this spring with a 1.458 OPS.
The San Francisco Giants will play one more game in Scottsdale before heading back to California. They will play the River Cats on Saturday before wrapping up spring with a three-game series against the A’s.