The San Francisco Giants need as much reliable contribution as possible from the back end of their starting rotation in the wake of news that Matt Cain will miss the remainder of the season due to elbow surgery. Ryan Vogelsong has done exactly that throughout the entirety of the 2014 MLB season, and continued to do so in a much needed 7-3 win for the Giants on Wednesday night.
Vogelsong wasn’t exactly stout from the get-go, failing to run-out a weak ground ball in the top of the first inning that would have scored the Giants’ fourth run. He then followed up his base-running blunder by tossing a cookie over the middle of the dish for All-Star leadoff hitter Carlos Gomez to drive 430 feet, immediately cutting the Giants’ lead to two runs.
The 37-year-old journeyman pitcher didn’t yield much after that.
Vogelsong’s authority as a veteran who “made it” the hard way is part of what makes the Giants one of the most difficult teams to beat down the stretch. Coming off a complete game two-hitter, Vogelsong demonstrated candid poise on a night where he didn’t have his best stuff. He was forced to grind through six innings, but allowed just one earned run on eight base runners with three strikeouts.
The Giants need those kinds of performances throughout the final eight weeks of the regular season if they’re going to win the NL West and give themselves the chance to dominant in the 2014 MLB playoffs. San Francisco aims to win their third World Series title in a span of just five years, an accomplishment of which would make them baseball’s modern dynasty.
If Vogelsong can continue pitching like he has been, the Giants’ chances of accomplishing their ultimate goal won’t be as unrealistic come October as some may think.
The 10-year veteran has endured a trying career in the big leagues, seemingly falling out of MLB action for good after 2006, when he posted a 6.39 ERA in 20 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Vogelsong bounced between Japan and other big league franchises before finally re-landing with the Giants, the team that originally drafted him in 2011.
Although San Francisco’s bullpen struggled to cling to a lead in the late innings, it was Vogelsong who put the the Giants into position to beat the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday. Strong starting pitching has always been the forte of the two-time champion SF Giants. The orange and black will go as far as guys like Vogelsong take them.
At the moment, Vogelsong might be the best No. 4 starter in all of baseball. After all, he has allowed just two earned runs over this last two starts (15.0 innings) and has allowed more than four earned runs just twice in 22 starts this season.
In an era where pitchers get paid the big bucks, Vogelsong is about as underrated as a big league hurler can possibly get.