This season, there have been two Ryan Vogelsongs: there’s been the one that started the season allowing hits and runs with relatively few ground balls, then there’s the other one that’s had a higher number of swinging strikes, more ground balls, and more outings where he’s completed at least six innings. The game logs and stats from his first four starts look like this:
He put it together a little bit just in time for the Giants to beat LA, but outside of that, believers were left scratching their heads and the critics were calling for Edwin Escobar, ready or not, or even Yusmeiro Petit. Looking at his performance card on Brooks Baseball, it seemed like he couldn’t rely on a pitch to get him an out. Amazing how explosive hitters were against his changeup:
Every outing he’s gone at least six innings, getting more swinging strikes, and a higher rate of ground balls. His lone bad start against Atlanta saw him lose his focus when his defense let him down, and that’s not to put the blame of his defense that should have made plays, Vogey also should have kept his focus to limit the damage. Referring to the screen shot, Vogelsong has allowed four extra base hits in his last six starts, compared with the fourteen in his first four. The batting average against for those pitches also look much better, with the two-seamer actually performing about the same. Now, if a player were to not report making adjustments, we’d all wonder what’s coming next in terms of not if, but when Vogelsong were going to regress back to the form of his earlier starts. We are at a point now where we consider what adjustments hitters will make to him, and how will the #5 SP respond to those, which is the best problem to have in terms of speculating about a player.
The Miami Marlins came into AT&T Park with a 4-15 road record, so it stands to reason that they are one game away from winning the four-game series. Sunday Funday brings former Detroit Tigers prospect Jacob Turner to the mound to face off against Ryan Vogelsong. Turner (4) has had half the starts Vogey has had (8), so all three of Turner’s bad starts for the Marlins are blowing up his numbers to the point where fans are probably expecting some sort of a 18-7 game in favor of the Giants. The #5 starter has been getting lit up by RHH thus far, facing fifty-five batters, with a .415/.436/.660 line and a .476 wOBA against. “Is that good,” you may be asking, and I can confirm that no, it is not. Turner’s game-high in strikeouts so far is four, so don’t look for a lot of throws around the bases, and walks have actually been kept relatively low, averaging less than two a start. Interesting to note that Turner has only gone against NL West teams in his four starts: two vs. the Dodgers, one vs. the Padres, and his season-opening start against the Rockies. Here’s how Turner’s pitches have been faring thus far, courtesy of Brooks Baseball:
Relying a lot on his fastball, I would expect his fastball control hasn’t been solid this year, whereas his sinker has enough movement to have saved him from the long ball so far. His off-speed pitches have been getting knocked around as well, but only for two extra base hits thus far.
Ryan Vogelsong may not have had the best April, prompting a lot of noise on social media to announce how done he was, but his last four starts he has lasted at least six innings, with his most recent start probably falling victim to a lack of focus after his defense was consistently letting him down for an inning. His three May starts have him at a .272 wOBA against, while the first month’s wOBA against was .399. He’s also been able to help out the bullpen, going only 23.1 IP in April, while already going 19.1 IP in May. This season, Vogey has posted a 24% K% against RHH, which isn’t too bad (10.8% K% against LHH). For the season, the man who eats enchiladas has seen his pitches fare as such:
Those numbers against the changeup are ridiculous, and you would expect those values to go down. Cutter’s numbers not great either, but otherwise decent for the #5 guy that Vogelsong is. Garrett Jones and Giancarlo Stanton have double-digit plate appearances against the Marlins, so they might be able to share their wisdom on their relatively short experience against facing Vogelsong.
The lineups for today look like this for the Marlins (with no Giancarlo Stanton!), looking to take a series on the road:
#marlins Hechavarria ss, Dietrich 2b, Yelich lf, McGehee 3b, Jones 1b, Lucas rf, Ozuna cf, Mathis c, Turner p
— clarkspencer (@clarkspencer) May 18, 2014
Pagan (jammed left shoulder) is out today. Blanco CF Pence RF Posey C Sandoval 3B Morse 1B Colvin LF Hicks 2B Crawford SS Vogelsong P
— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) May 18, 2014
First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM PST. The Giants will have a day off on Monday as they being a three-game road trip in Denver to face the second-place Rockies.
Ryan Vogelsong is pitching tonight, which still makes me a little nervous despite his most successful start coming against the now first-place Dodgers. He’s faced them twice, and once against the lowly Diamondbacks, his pitching contributing to one of Arizona’s few wins on the season. He has increased his IP by one in each successive outing (4.0 @ LA, 5.0 vs. AZ, 6.0 vs. LA), and you won’t see me complaining about Vogey giving the team seven strong. He did see a huge drop in strikes looking — 24, 21, to 9 in the last game, but a rise in his swinging strikes from 4, 4, to 8. We’ll see if the Rockies are aggressive against Vogelsong like the Dodgers appeared to be in their last meeting. The lineups:
Tonight’s #SFGiants lineup: Pagan cf Pence rf Posey c Morse lf Sandoval 3b Belt 1b Hicks 2b Crawford ss Vogelsong p
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) April 21, 2014
Already there is outrage about Brandon Belt‘s positioning in the lineup, even in terms of 5 and 6 with the question of should he be in front of Pablo Sandoval? Their splits, even from 2013-2014 suggest that Belt is the better option than Sandoval. If Sandoval continues to slump, that will work itself out and the Brandons will be broken up. Having Hunter Pence and Buster Posey that high in the lineup? No problem by me, and I don’t mind Michael Morse in the 4 spot. For the third-place Rockies:
Since their series against the Giants, the Rockies have won series against the Padres and the Phillies, so they are back on the winning side of things and have worked their way up to .500. Only a sweep of the Giants would put them in second place in the NL West. Jorge De La Rosa made it past the fifth inning for the first time in 2014 in his last outing against the Padres, going six innings, allowing eight baserunners and striking out four. He has allowed nine extra base hits to RHH in sixty-nine plate appearances (~13%), with four of those being big flies. This will be his second start at home. De La Rosa has a bunch of pitches he can throw at you, and for the details, check it out here. You’ll see he uses “only” five of his pitches against LHH while adding the sinker and curveball at times to RHH in an attempt to get them off-balance and keep them guessing.
My guess is that this turns into one heck of a bullpen game, which on paper favors the Giants whose bullpen has a 1.79 ERA in 19 G with a .223 BAA while the Rockies have a 3.73 ERA in 20 with a .251 BAA. As I believe it will come down to about five innings of bullpen work from each side, I’ll give the edge to the Giants in game one, even though I’m not that high on Vogelsong.
The San Francisco Giants, after signing Tim Hudson to a deal, decided to turn their focus on landing their #5 pitcher, be it Ryan Vogelsong, a different in-house option, someone on the market, or finding another pitcher in a trade. Apparently, the Giants have decided that Ryan Vogelsong was their best option:
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 29, 2013
The Giants rotation is now something along the lines of:
Originally the Giants had a $6.5MM option for him for 2014, but opted out, paying him $300,000 for the chance for them to explore their options for a better pitcher. Instead, it seems they could be paying more than their original option should Ryan Vogelsong first pass his physical to seal the deal, then summon his inner 2011 and 2012 seasons to earn more than what he was originally scheduled to earn.
2013 for Ryan Vogelsong saw him pitch in the World Baseball Classic and struggle in the regular season before coming back to being the Vogey we all know and love, before suffering a broken hand on a swinging HBP vs. the Nationals while he had a 6-0 lead on them:
The rest of the year he spent recovering and working to get that hand strength back, so even when he was reinstated and pitching again, he wasn’t the 100% Ryan Vogelsong we’ve been used to. What can you say about this deal? The Giants apparently didn’t like what they saw in Yusmeiro Petit, Edwin Escobar, or even Chad Gaudin enough to say to them, “You’re our #5 guy,” so if any of them are on the 25-man Opening Day Roster, it’s probably as a bullpen option. I know I can’t necessarily think of better, cheaper #5 options for the Giants that were out on the market, but I can’t say I’m thrilled or angry at this move. I’ve accepted it, and am OK with it. I believe the contributions Vogelsong can make for the Giants aren’t done yet, and this will be the last year he works his stuff with the Giants. If he can’t get that velocity back though while not improving his control+command, he’ll be pushed out of the rotation in favor of Petit or Escobar, should they still be around.
The Giants will now be turning their attention to filling out the rest of their roster, with their biggest goal of being acquiring a platoon partner for Gregor Blanco. Beat writers have said they expect the Giants to do so through trade, rather than free agency. The Winter Meetings, where baseball executives get together, will be held December 9-12 in Orlando, FL.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) November 2, 2013
I responded to Bill asking if he was sure that Torres had an option. It was confirmed by the other beat writers, so clearly Torres did, and I had no idea. Not only did he have an option, he had a buyout!
Per me: #sfgiants and Andres Torres held a $3 million mutual option for 2014, after he earned $2 million in ’13. Buyout is $500,000.
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) November 4, 2013
Son of a! Not only was his option buyout $500,000, it was $200,000 more than the buyout for Ryan Vogelsong‘s was. That’s bonkers to me, as much as I love Torres. Baggs says the Giants are working to bring Vogey back for less than the $6.5MM he was set to make in 2014 if his option were to be picked up:
— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) November 3, 2013
Makes me wonder how much the Giants are going to save. One 2013 Andres Torres, if that? Maybe just enough coin so that the Giants can give Javier Lopez a nice pay day.
In 2013, Vogelsong had one month with a FIP below 4. In 2011 and 2012, he had one month each season where he had a FIP over 4. That’s just one stat people might talk about going into 2014, assuming the Giants and Vogelsong get a deal done, which I expect they will. Also because I’m not ready for the Giants and Vogelsong to part ways, and I’m not sure many of us are, either.
Hot starts don’t necessarily dictate the results of May through October, because that’s only one month of baseball done, and even one month’s worth of goodies is a small sample size of information. Still, it’s not like it’s not fun to look at some of the numbers that were a little unexpected.
Win and Losses Division
The AL East really was, and still is anybody’s division to win, and so maybe Boston’s 18-8 record — and the best in baseball — shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. What is the bigger surprise can be found at the bottom of the division where the Toronto Blue Jays reside at 10-17. There are three teams with a worse record than that, two won’t surprise you, one may: Astros, Marlins, Angels.
Another unexpected positive performance has come from the NL West leading Colorado Rockies, and second place Kansas City are only a half game back of the 2012 AL Champs. Different league, but still the Central, the top four teams in the NLC are all within one game of each other.
Position Players Division
Surprising that Justin Upton has 12 homers? Probably not. Surprising that New York Mets catcher John Buck is tied for second with 9? Very! We always knew Chris Davis had power, just wondered if his contact rate would get in the way. You expected him to have more of a slash line like Anthony Rizzo than one like Bryce Harper.
This may not surprise you, but I did not think Carl Crawford would have as solid of an April as he’s had. 1.3 fWAR with a .390 wOBA, including 4 HR and SB. You do that every month and that gets you MVP votes.
Players in the bottom 15 of fWAR include players like Melky Cabrera (0 HR), Matt Kemp (84 wRC+), and Josh Hamilton (51 wRC+). I’m sure Melky’s place there doesn’t surprise the PED skeptics, but bottom 15 bad?
Starting Pitchers Division
Continuing with the bottom, it surprises me that two of the bottom seven fWAR performances belong to starters on the Giants staff, and neither of them are Barry Zito (Matt Cain, and Ryan Vogelsong). Brandon McCarthy may sport a horrible 7.48 ERA, but his 3.67 FIP is better than league average, and that 3.82 residual is pretty astounding for anybody.
In a shocking development, Stephen Strasburg and Jeff Samardzija‘s 1-4 W-L record may not tell you that they’ve actually done quite alright for their team, it’s just, you know, that whole run support thing.
Sergio Romo, Jason Grilli, Mariano Rivera, and Jim Johnson may have ten saves, but your leader for relievers in fWAR is James Russell of the Cubs and Craig Kimbrel, Matt Belisle, and four others at 0.6.
Speaking of Sergio, no “closer” has been brought into more games than him. 15. Brad Ziegler leads in appearances with 17. That’s a pretty healthy dose of usage early on.
I know John Axford was on the decline, but that 8 ERA and 7 FIP are more of a fall from grace than just a “decline.”
If you added Brandon League and Huston Street‘s K% (I know it doesn’t work like that, but work with me here), it would be 20.0%. Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Bailey, and Greg Holland would still have more than double that K%.
So there are some of your surprises from this month, definitely varying on the spectrum of surprisability, but those are some of the things that got my attention. What surprised you this month?
Last night was a nightmare for Andres Torres and his fans after he whiffed on a soft line drive to him in the 4th inning, Barry Zito couldn’t get back on track, and the Padres were leading the Giants 6-5, putting up that many runs in that fourth inning. Painful, so very painful, and that doesn’t even include the grounder to Marco Scutaro that you’d expect would have started a 4-6-3 sending the game to the 13th inning. This leaves us wondering why Gregor Blanco never played last night, how long Torres stays with the big club, and some calling for Casper Wells to be had by the Giants after he was DFA’d by the Athletics. Thank goodness Jean Machi was able to throw 3 innings last night to save Sergio Romo or Jose Mijares from doing more work than they needed to, but certainly Ryan Vogelsong will probably be given a little bit longer of a rope today, even though the bullpen is still relatively well rested.
The lineup for the visitors:
Sunday’s #SFGiants lineup: Pagan CF, Scutaro 2B, Sandoval 3B, Posey C, Pence RF, Belt 1B, Blanco LF, Crawford SS, Vogelsong RHP
— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) April 28, 2013
Giants fans everywhere relieved to see Gregor Blanco in the lineup even though it’s a righty on the mound and he should be in the lineup.
How it lines up for the home team looking to sweep:
#Padres lineup: SS Cabrera, RF Venable, 3B Headley, 1B Alonso, LF Blanks, 2B Gyorko, CF Amarista, C Hundley, P Marquis.
— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) April 28, 2013
You will probably hear a bit about how pitcher Jason Marquis has a 2.94 career ERA against the Giants that goes all the way back to 2001. He had a 2.03 ERA against them last year in 13.1 IP, so you might hear the word “ownage” tossed around on the broadcast. Neither Ryan Vogelsong or Padres starter Jason Marquis have faced the Giants this year, although Vogelsong got to see the Padres four times last year and in 22.0 IP he sported a 2.05 ERA, 21 K’s, 6 BB, but we’re still kind of wondering what Vogey we’re getting this year after some inconsistencies and bad luck hurt his box score. Vogelsong has lasted seven innings in each of his last two starts. I’m sure the Giants would be more than happy with that, especially as they get ready to go to Phoenix to play the Diamondbacks on Monday for a three-game set there.
Looking at the four game losing streak, people are going to have questions for certain stats that are pretty telling for why a team lost a game. The stats for each game of the stretch:
Errors: 3 (Crawford, Sandoval, Belt), 1 (Scutaro), 0, 2 (Torres, Scutaro)
Team LOB: 7, 10, 6, 5
RISP: 2-for-9, 0-for-10, 0-for-5, 3-for-7
The Giants have also scored first in three straight games, but haven’t been able to hold on, so like Scutaro was saying yesterday, the team is having trouble getting the offense, defense, and pitching in sync right now, and I’d say that’s a fair analysis, although plenty of positive signs with the bats yesterday. Hopefully that continues today against Marquis and the Padres.
Game time is 1:10PM PST, MLB.tv is having a free preview day, so as long as you’re not in the respective team’s markets, you should be able to catch the game for free today.