The ongoing list of injuries continues to pile up for the San Francisco Giants, who enter the day in a virtual tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West. Former staff ace Matt Cain is the Giants’ latest roster casualty and has officially been placed on the 15-day disabled list with elbow inflammation. This marks the third time this season that Cain has been forced to make a trip to the DL.
Cain’s “cranky” elbow has been an internal concern for some time now, but the Giants had previously held out hope the 10-year veteran would be able to resume his regular pitching duties after the All-Star break. That sentiment has proven to be nothing more than wishful thinking.
The Giants are a first-place team despite posting a meager 12-23 record over the past six-plus weeks. They have a clear-cut chance to get to the postseason and make a run at their third World Series title in a span of five years.
The biggest roadblock preventing San Francisco from pushing pedal to the metal is injuries, a reality that could prompt general manager Brian Sabean to stand pat at the trade deadline, considering the relative unlikelihood of each key contributor suddenly returning to full strength.
Although the Giants do not flaunt a title-worthy team at the moment, they do have several pieces in place to help them overtake the Dodgers and reclaim the West. The Giants’ front office brass knows this, which is why they’ve been reportedly active in gauging the trade market over the course of the past few weeks.
In a perfect world, the Giants would be one key piece removed from becoming legitimately capable of winning another championship, much like they were in 2012 when they acquired Hunter Pence. This season is different. The Giants’ bench depth is laughable. They boast big time voids in center field, second base and now at the back end of their starting rotation due to injuries.
Nobody imagined the Giants would be in a position to replace Cain’s spot in the rotation for the foreseeable future at this juncture of the season, but they are. Cain, the author of a perfect game, owns a 2-7 record with a 4.18 ERA in 15 starts this season. He’s been a frequent victim of minimal run support over his career, a trend that hasn’t changed in 2014.
Cain has allowed just four earned runs over 19.1 innings in his final three starts before the All-Star break. His ERA had dropped from 4.82 to a less gaudy figure, but his bouts of inconsistency remain troubling. The Giants just can’t have that if they’re going to seriously contend for a title in 2014.
Add starting pitching to the elongated shopping list for the Giants this July. If Sabean is a believer in the core of the team San Francisco currently has in place, he absolutely must trade for the likes of a Cliff Lee in order to propel the Giants to another championship.