After allowing five earned runs off three home runs in 1.1 innings of work in his fourth start of the season for the San Francisco Giants, it’s becoming apparent that Ryan Vogelsong is no longer capable of frequently getting big league hitters out. Vogelsong’s earned run average ballooned to 7.71 in 16.1 innings pitched during the 2014 MLB season as he failed to survive the second inning of a game against the division rival Colorado Rockies.
It was the worst start of Vogelsong’s career in a Giants uniform and should be his last.
The Giants desperately need consistency from each member of their starting rotation. Vogelsong doesn’t appear capable of doing that anymore. His struggles aren’t new. Vogelsong was mostly awful when healthy in 2013, registering a 4-6 record with a 5.73 ERA in 19 starts. While his season was cut short due to a hand injury suffered in the batter’s box, Vogelsong didn’t seem worthy of the one-year, $5 million deal the team opted to sign him to over the offseason. Now, that money appears like it’s headed for the wasteland.
Although it remains early in the season, the Giants cannot continue to throw Vogelsong into the fire every fifth day. He’s simply not getting the job done. He’s allowing nearly two base runners per inning, registering a severely poor 1.96 WHIP. He’s allowed at least four runs while failing to pitch more than 5.0 innings in three of his four starts. Vogelsong isn’t fooling anybody, striking out just 11 batters on the season. He’s also noticeably struggled the second and third times through opposing lineups, spelling disaster.
Unfortunately, the Giants don’t possess a clear-cut solution to the void Vogelsong has seemingly created at the back end of the starting rotation. Long-relief man Yusmeiro Petit pitched well in garbage time at the end of last season, but isn’t a season-long fix for the Giants. Left-handed prospect Edwin Escobar is thought to be the closest thing to a big league-ready farmhand the Giants have in the minor league ranks, but he’s been iffy thus far in triple-A action, posting an 0-1 record with a 5.49 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 19.2 innings pitched.
The fact that San Francisco doesn’t have a can’t-ignore option to replace Vogelsong in the rotation will ultimately force them to stick with the veteran right-hander, who might have squeezed out every ounce of talent he had remaining in the Giants’ 2012 World Series title run. San Francisco must consider releasing Vogelsong, regardless. He doesn’t appear close to turning things around, which means the Giants will continue to lose if he continues to take the mound as a $5-million formality.