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Starter's role fine fit for 'Strat,' who K's 10 again

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

PHOENIX -- Chris Stratton continued to get his work in for 2018 during the Giants' 11-0 loss Sunday to the Diamondbacks.

"Getting work in" is what's said in Spring Training about a pitcher's regular-season preparation. Indeed, this might as well have been a late-March exhibition at any of the nearby Cactus League venues, with Stratton building up innings after cementing a starter's role.

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PHOENIX -- Chris Stratton continued to get his work in for 2018 during the Giants' 11-0 loss Sunday to the Diamondbacks.

"Getting work in" is what's said in Spring Training about a pitcher's regular-season preparation. Indeed, this might as well have been a late-March exhibition at any of the nearby Cactus League venues, with Stratton building up innings after cementing a starter's role.

View Full Game Coverage

Of course, Stratton hasn't officially guaranteed himself a place in the Giants rotation. But manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged that the 27-year-old known as "Strat" clearly has demonstrated his ability.

"He's exceeded even what we thought or expected with how well he has pitched," Bochy said after the Giants finished absorbing their first series sweep at Chase Field since April 6-8, 2012. "He's doing stuff that elite pitchers do."

Stratton received Sunday's decision, but avoided the D-backs' nine-run outburst in the eighth inning, allowing two runs and four hits in six innings. He offset his five walks with 10 strikeouts.

"I hate the walks," said Stratton, the Giants' first-round selection in the 2012 Draft, "but that's something we'll get better at."

Despite starting just five games, Stratton has recorded two of the Giants' six double-digit strikeout performances authored by their starters. He struck out 10 Nationals on Aug. 13.

Video: SF@WSH: Watch Stratton K 10 batters in 10 seconds

"I think it's getting a little ahead of ourselves," Bochy said when asked whether Stratton had clinched a starter's job for next year. "We have a lot of baseball left and starts. But he's doing what you want to see from these guys, making a statement that he can pitch up here and he belongs up here. It's good to see. He's done all he can to force his way on this staff somewhere."

Bochy's sentiment was evident before the game, when he insisted that Stratton would remain in the rotation even after Johnny Cueto makes his anticipated return from a right flexor tendon strain within a week.

"We're not going to do that to him. He's throwing the ball too well," Bochy said. Referring to Stratton's previous pair of outings against Washington and Milwaukee, in which he threw 12 2/3 scoreless innings, Bochy added, "He's had two good starts against two good teams. No, we won't go start to start."

Stratton proceeded to reward Bochy's faith in him. He wisely issued a leadoff walk to Paul Goldschmidt in the second inning before coaxing J.D. Martinez' double-play grounder. The first run Stratton surrendered was the product of a third-inning curveball that Rey Fuentes flung at and missed for strike three. But the ball bounced wickedly in the dirt and away from catcher Nick Hundley for a wild pitch, enabling Chris Herrmann to score from third base.

Even Martinez's sixth-inning homer wasn't an egregious mistake by Stratton.

"That ball actually was kind of down," Bochy said. "It wasn't that bad of a pitch."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Chris Stratton