Matt Cain struggled again on Thursday. The Giants lost 17-7 to the Colorado Rockies. (Marcio Jose Sanchez)

HELP WANTED: Late-in-the-rotation starters

AT&T PARK — The Colorado Rockies’ 17-7 bludgeoning of the Giants on Tuesday night — highlighted by a 37-minute and 13-run top of the fifth — provided a clear explanation for how Tim Lincecum has become the most popular man in baseball.

As the Giants and the Rockies were reminded, it’s not easy to find serviceable — much less quality big-league starters.

That’s why scouts, execs and decision makers from 23 team will be descending on the desert this afternoon to take in Licecum’s showcase at Scottsdale Stadium. The same right-hander who hasn’t been the Freak since 2011.

Matt Cain’s ERA ballooned to 7.84 after he served up six earned runs on 10 hits and failed to escape the fifth for the third time in six trips to the mound. With fellow struggling starter Jake Peavy sporting a 9.00 mark, the Giants Nos. 4 and 5 guys now have the two-worst ERAs among all qualified pitchers.

The only consolation for the Giants is that the club is far from the only one  — especially in the National League West — that could use an extra arm.

After all, Rockies starter Chris Rusin couldn’t get out of the fifth even though his club had built a commanding 17-3 advantage.

“I think we’re better on the mound — top to bottom,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said before Tuesday’s contest. “I think that’s one of the ways we’re going to be able to sustain it.”

The numbers don’t back up the skipper’s assessment. The Rockies starting staff ranks No. 13 in the NL in ERA and they’re not even the worst in the division. That distinction belongs to the Arizona Diamondbacks who clock in at No. 14. The Giants rank eleventh.

Before the end of the month, Lincecum will be starting for someone, and all three of those NL West clubs make for viable destinations.

“Well, I mean that’s what we’ll have to talk about,” Bochy explained when asked how long he can keep on trotting out Cain and Peavy.

Whether or not Lincecum is in the Giants’ plan, one look at the Triple-A starting schedule confirms that the Giants are rapidly preparing for life after Peavy and Cain. The Giants have been throwing Chris Heston on the nights Peavy takes the mound and Ty Blach on the nights Cain gets the call.

Soon, the Giants will have a new arm or two in the rotation. Now, the question is whether it will be a rebuilt Lincecum or one of their starters currently stashed in Sacramento.

chris rusinColorado RockiesJake Peavykarl buscheckMatt CainMLBNolan ArenadoSan Francisco GiantsTim LincecumWalt Weiss

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