When I think about the San Francisco Giants and pitching, I immediately think about Tim Lincecum, even if this season, and postseason, isn’t typical for him. Well, now I have another name to associate with Giants pitching: Ryan Vogelsong.
Vogelsong had another stellar game last night, helping to put the Giants just one game away from another World Series Championship. He went 5.2 innings, giving up five hits, and no runs.
In four postseason starts, Vogelsong is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.09, a WHIP of 1.05, and 21 strikeouts. It’s hard when you’re not the player who is hitting three home runs in one game to gain nationwide attention, but he has been the Giants best pitcher this postseason, and deserves a lot of credit.
Vogelsong’s story is one of pure persistence. Though he was drafted by the Giants, he was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2001. After only two games with the Pirates he had to have Tommy John surgery, which kept him out for the rest of the 2001 season, and most of the 2003 season.
2004 was his first full season in the MLB, and it was a horrible one. Vogelsong went 6-13 with a 6.50 ERA. The following season he was moved to the bullpen where he posted a 2-2 record with a 4.43 ERA.
Vogelsong, not ready to throw in the towel, played in the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan for three seasons.
He came back to the MLB in 2010 with the Philadelphia Phillies, but was released by mid-July. He was picked up by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but then again was released at the end of the season.
In 2011 Vogelsong signed a minor league contract with the Giants, and due to an injured Barry Zito, was given a real opportunity, or what could be seen as one last chance, to prove himself.
And that he did.
In his first start since 2004, Vogelsong held his old team, the Pirates, to four hits, and the Giants won the game 5-2. This was his first win since 2005. Through the first half of 2011 he had a 6-1 record with a 2.17 ERA. That was good enough not only for a spot in the Giants starting rotation, but for his first All-Star appearance as well.
Vogelsong had a good 2012. He went 14-9 with a 3.37 ERA and 158 strikeouts. But this postseason is where is has really come to shine.
Many of players would have given up after a major surgery, being released twice in one season, or wouldn’t have even thought about playing in Japan for a few seasons, but Vogelsong pushed through it all. Now he is on a team that is just one win away from a World Series Championship, and he is a major reason why.