Jump in your time machine and head back to 2016. Two years after the SF Giants won their third World Series title in five seasons, they got off to a hot start and appeared destined to continue their incredible "Even-Year Magic".
In the first week of that season, the Orange and Black hosted their hated rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, for a series at Oracle Park. In the second game of the series, a day after the Giants broke out offensively with a late barrage for a 12-6 win, San Francisco faced a rookie making his Major League debut.
Matt Cain was on the hill for the only team he ever knew, and as happened so often to "The Horse", he got "Cained". He tossed six innings of two-run ball but received NO run support - because his opponent was in the throes of a no-hitter.
Now, the rookie who started that game for the Dodgers is going to be a Giant.
Tuesday, just two days after signing former Oakland Athletic starter Sean Manaea, Farhan Zaidi and crew dipped into the "starting pitcher with West Coast experience" well again. This time, they signed right-hander Ross Stripling, who had spent the last two seasons (and part of 2020) with the Toronto Blue Jays after four-plus years with the Dodgers.
As they did with Manaea, the Giants gave Stripling a two-year deal worth $25 million and includes an opt-out after the first year, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.
Stripling had a solid four full seasons in Los Angeles to begin his career, with a 3.51 ERA in 136 games split between starting and relieving. He was an All-Star in 2018, a year he had a 3.02 ERA and struck out 136 in 122 innings.
After being traded by LA to Toronto about halfway through the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Stripling had a hard time finding his footing north of the border. He made five appearances with a 6.32 ERA in September of that year, then had a 4.80 ERA and 23 home runs allowed in just over 100 innings for the Blue Jays in 2021.
In 2022, however, Stripling rebounded to post the best ERA of his career at 3.10. He made 24 starts among 32 appearances and cut his home run-allowed rate more than 50% while striking out over five times more batters than he walked.
With the Giants' track record of helping many pitchers get the most out of their abilities, Stripling has a chance to be a solid member of the rotation.
What does the Stripling signing mean for the pursuit of Rodon?
After the Manaea signing, the team was still interested in their 2022 All-Star and the best pitcher left on the free agent market, Carlos Rodon, according to the SF Chronicle's Giants beat writer, Susan Slusser.
With Stripling, San Francisco has six candidates for what will likely be a five-man rotation. So are they settled for the start of their games? Apparently not - Slusser tweeted the Giants are "still in" on trying to bring Rodon back for 2023 and beyond.
In case you don't remember, that April 2016 game in which Stripling made his debut went to the Giants. Stripling was pulled by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts in the eighth after issuing his fourth walk of the game, and reliever Chris Hatcher promptly allowed a game-tying home run to Giants catcher Trevor Brown. Then, in the bottom of the 10th, Brandon Crawford led off against Joe Blanton and ended the game with a solo walk-off blast.