It seemed like general manager Brian Sabean was on the verge of being forced to make a difficult roster decision in regard to Ryan Vogelsong after the 36-year-old veteran failed to post a win in his first five starts of the 2014 MLB season for the San Francisco Giants. Sabean retorts to members of the media that he doesn’t critically evaluate starting pitchers’ performances until they have six starts under their belt. Vogelsong reached that marker on Saturday night, earning his first win of the season in his second consecutive quality start.
Vogelsong appeared more inefficient than any other starter in the big leagues after his first four starts. His ERA had ballooned to 7.71 after surviving just 1.1 innings in an ugly 8-2 loss against the Colorado Rockies on April 21. He surrendered five earned runs on six hits, including three home runs in that contest. Although the confines of Coors Field can be stat-wrecking for just about any big-league starting pitcher, Vogelsong appeared completely out of sorts, and perhaps headed for the exits.
The former feel-good story had previously established himself as one of the most stingy pitchers in baseball, ranking among ERA leaders in 2011 with a 2.71 mark. He followed up a stunning season-long performance with a similarly impressive 2012 campaign, registering a 14-9 record with a 3.37 ERA. He was superb on the road in Game 3 of the 2012 World Series, shutting down a potent Detroit Tigers‘ lineup, scattering nine base runners over 5.2 innings without allowing a run.
Vogelsong suffered a season-crippling hand injury in 2013 that completely derailed his season. He posted a 4-6 record with a 5.73 ERA in 19 starts last season, numbers that carried over into the 2014 campaign. The culmination of an ugly 2013 season, consistently poor performances in Spring Training and a string of bad starts in April made it appear as though Vogelsong was done. It wasn’t as if his early-season struggles were a new fad. He seemingly hadn’t been the same since that heroic start in the Fall Classic.
Vogelsong boasts an impenetrable mentality. He constantly strives to prove doubters wrong. His competitive mindset has certainly played a part in his recent resurgence at the back end of the Giants’ starting rotation. Since getting absolutely crushed in the mile-high city, Vogelsong has yielded just one earned run on seven hits in 13.0 innings. His recent dominance on the mound is tremendously encouraging for the Giants, who might flaunt a more capable rotation than previously thought.