From the beginning of the season to mid-August (more than four months) Ryan Vogelsong ma..."/> From the beginning of the season to mid-August (more than four months) Ryan Vogelsong ma..."/> From the beginning of the season to mid-August (more than four months) Ryan Vogelsong ma..."/>

Ryan Vogelsong: Can the Pitcher Get Back On Track In Time For the Playoffs?

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From the beginning of the season to mid-August (more than four months) Ryan Vogelsong made a pretty good case for being the Giants’ ace and winning the Cy Young award.

Seven starts later, he’s on the outside looking in when it comes to the Giants’ playoff rotation.

Vogelsong’s ERA ballooned from 2.27 to 3.65 in that span, and his record got worse. His stats got so much worse, and they aren’t even close to great now. Recently, he has left pitches down the middle frequently, failed to keep his pitch count down and lost games for the Giants.

Barry Zito, San Francisco’s inconsistent No. 5 pitcher, will probably be in the playoff rotation due to his recent success. Despite having a staggering 4.91 ERA, Tim Lincecum should expect to see himself in the rotation too.

Add in the fact that Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner are locks, and it will be tough for Vogelsong. The Giants may use a three-man rotation as well, which would also change things. Unless Vogelsong chalks up quality starts and wins in his last few starts of the season, he probably won’t be in their playoff rotation.

Yes, Vogelsong could see some time as a long reliever. But overall, his terrible performance has cost the team, and he will pay for it.

A number of things have gone wrong for Vogelsong, but I have noticed something that has gone completely wrong. Hitters have been more patient with him, and he hasn’t been able to get away with his approach lately. Despite having a very low K/9 rate, Vogelsong had a very low WHIP and ERA early in the season. Hitters were jammed very often, and it felt like they never stood much of a chance against Vogelsong.

However, they have been much more patient. They’ve realized that if they take more pitches, he will give them more pitches to hit. And it applies more to him than most pitchers. If he locates a fastball inside on the first pitch and you swing, the result will probably be a weak ground ball.

But if you take that pitch, even if it’s a strike, the result can be better. Vogelsong throws a lot more pitches, and eventually, he will make a mistake. When he’s tired, he noticeably makes a lot more mistakes. And, hitters are capitalizing on that. Even if they can’t bring in runs early, they will run his pitch count up and break out when he collapses.

Usually, that leads to a loss for the Giants.

Vogelsong’s next start is against the San Diego Padres, where he will look to get back on track at home against a mediocre offense. However, Chase Headley, Logan Forsythe and company will be ready. They know what to do. The last time Vogelsong faced them, he got the loss while lasting just three innings. That was the second of his seven horrible starts.

If that happens again, he can kiss any hopes of being in the Giants’ playoff rotation goodbye. Barry Zito has great numbers for a No. 5 pitcher, going 12-8 with a 4.21 ERA. Bruce Bochy has put faith in Zito before, and Zito has pitched in the playoffs before. Vogelsong hasn’t, and he hasn’t been doing well with the pressure amped up.

When Zito locates his curveball, he is almost unhittable. Vogelsong has been hittable no matter what. Tim Lincecum is becoming his old self, as we can all tell from his performance against the Rockies last night. Madison Bumgarner leads the team in wins and always finds a way to make an impact, and Matt Cain is the Giants’ ace.

So even though Vogelsong has been magical, there just isn’t room for him in the rotation. If I were Bochy, I would have him on the roster as a long reliever. He hasn’t shown the capability to go deep into games, and he hasn’t shown the capability to pitch well after being overworked. So, the Giants don’t really have an option.

They need to leave Vogelsong out of their playoff rotation.