SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the Giants' more significant items on their list of anticipated personnel moves became reality Thursday, when manager Bruce Bochy named Chris Stratton to replace Matt Cain in the starting rotation.
This wasn't the first time that Stratton and Cain figuratively crossed paths. Last year, for example, the Giants recalled Stratton from Triple-A Sacramento when Cain went on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring in late May. The following month, Stratton was on his way back to Sacramento but U-turned toward the Giants when Cain endured a sudden physical setback.
This changing of the guard could last longer if Stratton, 26, can duplicate the consistency he displayed last season with Sacramento, where he finished 12-6 with a 3.87 ERA. The right-hander is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in 11 intermittent appearances for the Giants since last year. He'll make his first appearance in his new role on Saturday when he faces Arizona at AT&T Park.
Stratton, the Giants' No. 1 draft selection (20th overall) in 2012, must shoulder the responsibility of replacing one of the franchise's most successful pitchers.
Cain, 32, is a three-time All-Star who pitched the only perfect game in Giants history on June 13, 2012, against Houston. He compiled a 4-2 record with a 2.10 ERA in the 2010 and '12 postseasons and performed for all three of San Francisco's World Series-winning teams. Cain will now pitch out of the bullpen.
Injuries have hampered Cain since the 2013 season. This year, he won a spot in the season-opening rotation but pitched himself off it by posting a 3-9 record with a 5.37 ERA. Johnny Cueto's trip to the disabled list gave Cain a brief reprieve from reporting to the bullpen, but this week the club's front office decide to commit itself to giving younger players increased opportunities.
The Giants' leader in terms of continuous service -- he made his big league debut on Aug. 29, 2005 against Colorado -- Cain ranks among the San Francisco-era top 10 in wins (104), innings (2,067) and strikeouts (1,679).
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.