Is Vogelstrong for Real?

Is it a coincidence that I decide to start this blog after a significant win at Chavez Ravine against Giants killer, Clayton Kershaw? I’m not gonna say, but it does give me good subject matter for my first post. Ryan Vogelsong had one of the best stories in baseball last year. A long time journeyman returning to American baseball with the team that originally drafted him, resurrecting his career and emerging as one of the strongest, most consistent pitchers in a rotation made up of mostly studs. A perfect baseball fairy tale.
Naturally, the skeptics come out after a season like that. Can he keep it up? Was it a fluke year? The same questions were asked of Andres Torres after his breakout season in 2010, and unfortunately, with no help from injuries, he couldn’t lay those skepticism to rest in 2011. I was a little hesitant to fully back the next Giants comeback kid and wasn’t totally sure if Vogelsong could continue what he started on April 28, 2011 in Pittsburgh, when he earned his first major league win since 2005 (when he ironically was a relief pitcher for the Pirates). So far this year, before last night, he hadn’t impressed me. Yes, he hurt himself and didn’t get a full ST to warm up, so one could argue that could excuse his first few starts. Not that they were all that bad; his first four 2012 starts went 6 innings or greater, with two of them counting as quality starts (a stat I’ll get into more in a future post). He even managed to keep his WHIP respectable. I’ll excuse his 0-2 record, because, you know, it’s the Giants. But his 3.42 ERA wasn’t inspiring and he never seemed all that confident on the mound. So going into yesterday, I wasn’t ready to proclaim that 2011 Vogelstrong was back for good.

He laid my skepticism to rest.

Maybe it was the hour long mental prep at his locker. Maybe it was watching Magic Johnson sing along with the National Anthem. Maybe the customary wave that the Dodgers fans started got his mind focused. Whatever it was, he was in every pitch last night. His pitches were vintage Vogelsong (and by vintage, I mean last year). Abreu showed his amazing plate discipline by taking those sliders that were a hair off the plate on both sides. 9 out of 10 other professional hitters would have struck out in that AB. It was such a shame to watch Vogelsong leave the game with the bases loaded. Luckily, Javy Lopez was in 2010 form as well. Not only did Vogelsong pitch masterfully last night, he did it against the (sorta) red-hot Dodgers, managed to not let Kemp beat him (despite two hits), and most importantly, out dueled Kershaw, who turns into Cy Mathewson whenever he sees Black and Orange.

Both the Giants and Ryan Vogelsong have a long season ahead, but last night at Dodgers Stadium was a crucial step in the right direction. Let’s hope that Lincecum can capture what he has been sniffing at the past two starts and get us a series win against the Dodgers!

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