After his latest debacle, Ryan Vogelsong has forced the San Francisco Giants to seriously consider removing him from the rotation.
Whether the removal is temporary or permanent, something needs to be done.
Through eight starts, the stats are hideous. Vogelsong is 1-4 with an 8.06 ERA, which is highest among all qualified starting pitchers.
In 41.1 innings pitched, the well-traveled righty has allowed 11 home runs while compiling an ugly 1.84 walks plus hits per inning pitched ratio (WHIP).
Considering how bad Vogelsong has been, the Giants’ record of 3-5 in his eight starts isn’t terrible.
But Vogelsong’s ERA in the three wins is a ghastly 7.84, and two of the victories came in walk-off fashion.
On April 9, after Vogelsong allowed six earned runs in 4.1 innings against the Atlanta Braves, Giants manager Bruce Bochy was noncommittal when asked if Vogelsong would make his next start.
Via Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News, Bochy said, “These are things we talk about internally. Right now I’m not ready to discuss that. He’s healthy. We have options, I’ll leave it at that.”
On Wednesday, after Vogelsong lasted only two innings in Toronto, Bochy hinted that a change could soon be in order.
What are the Giants’ options?
They could skip his next turn in the rotation and let him work things through in an extra bullpen session. But that creates a problem.
The Giants don’t have a day off before Vogelsong’s next start, so skipping him would force one of two scenarios: The Giants would either call up a spot starter from the minor leagues or allow the game to be pitched entirely by the bullpen.
If the Giants do elect to call up a spot starter, the most likely candidate would be Chris Heston, the team’s 2009 12th-round pick.
Heston, who is 4-2 with a 6.18 ERA at Triple-A Fresno, is the only minor league starter currently on the Giants’ 40-man roster.
Heston last pitched on May 11, and Vogelsong’s next scheduled start isn’t until May 20 versus the Washington Nationals. In this scenario, Heston would have plenty of time to rest up for his major league debut.
The more likely situation, however, is that long reliever Chad Gaudin will start in place of Vogelsong.
Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle concurs, stating in his blog that the Giants “cannot skip the fifth spot against the Nationals on Monday night. They only can replace him with another pitcher, such as Chad Gaudin.”
Gaudin, who threw 71 pitches in relief of Vogelsong on Wednesday night, has started 75 games over the course of his 11-year major league career.
If the Giants decide to go with Gaudin on May 20 in place of Vogelsong, they would be left one man short in the bullpen for at least four games.
In that case, the team would likely recall reliever Jean Machi and option first baseman Brett Pill back to Fresno.
The Giants could also elect to remove Vogelsong from the rotation indefinitely.
But that is not likely—at least not this early in the season—considering he is under contract for $5 million this year and has a $6.5-million club option for 2014.
Bochy and general manager Brian Sabean are well-known for giving their veteran players an excess amount of rope, and Vogelsong’s case will be no different.
As for himself, Vogelsong has not lost any confidence after his rough stretch. Via Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area:
Things have got to turn in my favor eventually. I shattered two bats. I mean, I sawed them off and they went for two hits. You’ve got to ride it out, make the best pitch possible every pitch.
By now, most fans are aware of the hurdles that Vogelsong has had to climb in order to achieve success.
After nine minor league seasons and three years spent pitching in Japan, an eight-start slump seems almost insignificant in the unflappable starter’s incredible career.
For now, Ryan Volgelsong’s spot in the rotation appears to be safe.
*All stats courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.