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6-man rotation on tap as Cueto returns tonight

Bochy hints that format won't be employed for long
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN DIEGO -- The Giants' starting rotation will rotate a lot more slowly. At least for the immediate future.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced after Wednesday's 5-0 loss to the Padres that his club will employ a six-man pitching rotation.

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SAN DIEGO -- The Giants' starting rotation will rotate a lot more slowly. At least for the immediate future.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced after Wednesday's 5-0 loss to the Padres that his club will employ a six-man pitching rotation.

View Full Game Coverage

"For right now," Bochy said.

Those three words provided a major hint that the six-man alignment won't be in effect very long.

Every Thursday in September is a scheduled off-day for the Giants. So is Monday, Sept. 18. Thus, the six-man rotation will become a once-per-week work schedule for Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and their counterparts.

No Major League starter wants to pitch just once a week. No Major League ballclub wants to use its most effective starters so sporadically.

Bochy announced that Cueto, who has recovered from a strained right flexor tendon, will rejoin the rotation to start Friday against St. Louis at AT&T Park.

The Giants scratched ace Madison Bumgarner from Thursday's start with flu-like symptoms -- complicating the start of San Francisco's six-man rotation. After Cueto, Chris Stratton, Samardzija, Matt Moore and Ty Blach will pitch in consecutive games. Bochy will likely plug Bumgarner into the mix; he could pitch as early as Sunday.

Before Bochy released all this news, speculation wafted through the Giants' world about which starter might be dropped from the rotation to create a vacancy for Cueto -- assuming that a five-man rotation would remain intact.

The departing pitcher wouldn't be Bumgarner, who has reclaimed his status as staff ace since his recovery from an April dirt-bike accident. It wouldn't be Samardzija, who has a chance to lead the Majors in innings pitched. It wouldn't be Stratton, since the Giants must determine the legitimacy of his skills. And it wouldn't be Moore, who's being given every chance to find a cure to his season-long malaise.

Video: SF@ARI: Bumgarner fans Blanco to finish his outing

Wednesday, Blach made sure that he wouldn't be the starter to take a seat if a five-man rotation went into effect after Cueto's return.

The rookie left-hander absorbed the decision in the Giants' defeat. But he improved substantially over his previous three appearances, a stretch in which he recorded an 8.82 ERA and lost each outing.

This time, Blach (8-11) resumed his competent and competitive ways, which he has maintained through most of the season. The Giants trailed only 2-0 when he left the game after 5 2/3 innings. Through the first five innings, he allowed one run and three hits.

Video: SF@SD: Blach clubs a double to left-center field

Blach even singled and doubled in two at-bats to contribute to the Giants' offense, which struggled throughout the team's 1-5 trip during which it hit .202, scored 10 runs, endured two shutout defeats and batted .121 (4-for-33) with runners in scoring position.

"You gotta take part in all facets of the game, however you can help the team win," Blach said.

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, Ty Blach, Johnny Cueto