Starting Ryan Vogelsong in Game 4 Is the Right Move


The San Francisco Giants lost Game Three of the World Series to the Kansas City Royals last night, which gave the Royals the 2-1 advantage in the series. Although Game Four today isn’t technically or mathematically a must-win for the Giants, it’s certainly an almost must-win for the Giants, which raises an important question.

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Bruce Bochy claimed before Game Three that if the Giants were to lose, there was at least a possibility that they could decide to start Madison Bumgarner on short rest for Game Four.

Now that the Giants have lost Game Three, Bochy has declared though that Ryan Vogelsong will make his scheduled start today.

Given the heightened importance of this game, is it a mistake for Bochy to start Vogelsong over Bumgarner?

Bochy made the right decision by starting Vogelsong in Game Four. There are several reasons why this is the right decision.

First of all, if Vogelsong gets off to a rough start, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for the Giants. One of their greatest assets in this postseason has been Yusmeiro Petit. Not only is Petit able to give the team six or seven strong innings out of the bullpen, but he has been absolutely dominant recently.

So far this postseason, he’s given up no runs, just two hits, he’s struck out 11 batters, and he’s posted a 0.67 WHIP in nine total innings in two appearances.

Oct 4, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Yusmeiro Petit (52) pitches in the 12th inning against the Washington Nationals in game two of the 2014 NLDS playoff baseball game at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Petit is the Giants’ secret weapon, and he’s well rested right now. If Vogelsong gets into trouble in the first few innings, Petit could come into the game for six or seven innings, which would also preserve the bullpen.

Second, being down 2-1 in a series isn’t the best situation to be in, obviously. Being down 3-1 wouldn’t be great either, but if the Giants face a potential elimination situation in Game Five, they’d want Bumgarner starting. If the Giants lose today, they’d would want their ace pitching to save their season in Game Five.

Third, given the fact that Bumgarner would be pitching on short rest (just three days) and at home (where he struggled in the regular season), the Giants would potentially be wasting a start from him. Bumgarner could easily have struggled in a start today, and then the Giants could be down 3-1 in the series without the option of using Bumgarner again in the near future.

It’d be one thing to pitch Bumgarner on short rest in a Game Seven of the World Series, but it doesn’t make sense to start him in Game Four when the team is down 2-1, not 3-0.

Lastly, starting Vogelsong is a sign of confidence from the Giants. If they were in panic (or is it Panik?) mode, then they would start Bumgarner, and it would show the Royals that they were desperate. The decision to start Vogelsong today shows Bochy’s trust and confidence in Vogelsong and the rest of the team to do everything they can to win today.

The Giants have faced adversity in the postseason before, and they’re certainly used to defying expectations. They’re also used to receiving some clutch performances from some unexpected heroes.

Could Vogelsong be the next unexpected hero to come through for the Giants and help lead them to a big postseason win? My prediction? Yes.