Game 66, Giants at Mariners
Jason Vargas vs. Ryan Vogelsong, 7:10pm
Ryan Vogelsong’s comeback story got plenty of attention thanks to an All-Star appearance and because he was on the team featured in Showtime’s “The Franchise” documentary. The short version: after debuting with the Giants in 2000, he went to the Pirates where he sucked repeatedly and relentlessly in both the rotation and the bullpen. After getting cut in 2006, he spent three decent years in Japan, and was considering Taiwan and Korea before getting a minor league shot in the Angels organization in 2010. He was, again, pretty bad. He moved to the Phillies AAA team, and was slightly worse. Then, he caught on with the Giants’ AAA affiliate in 2011 and pitched brilliantly, came up to the majors and made an improbable run at a Cy Young award (ok, ok, he only finished 11th).
It’s the sort of thing that we’d all talk about for years if it wasn’t the undrafted Brandon Beachy’s first full year in the majors…the guy with a K/9 of over 10 in 25 starts. Closer to home, the M’s Tom Wilhelmsen made the team out of spring training months after being a bartender. Obviously scouring for retired prospects, the M’s then had Steve Delabar make his MLB debut in the same year he began as a substitute teacher. Jerome Williams re-emerged from wherever he went. 2011 was insane, and while Vogelsong’s story’s remarkable, we’d make a bigger deal out of it if we weren’t so overwhelmed with “comeback” and “underdog” stories. I scan minor league box scores a lot, and I keep waiting to run into Jesse Foppert’s name.
Vogelsong uses a low-90s four-seamer, a two-seamer and a cutter along with a curve and change. Nothing looks remarkable watching him, and nothing looks remarkable via pitch-fx. He gets a surprisingly high number of swinging strikes with his fastball, and gets called strikes with both his curve and four-seamer. You’d think this would mean he’s got great command, but his walk rates sure don’t corroborate that.
Speaking of unremarkable-looking things, the M’s send Jason Vargas, to the mound. He’s got a nice RA and a career-best K:BB ratio, but like many M’s hurlers, he’s having problems with home runs this year. He’s given up 8 in his last 6 starts (38 1/3 IP), which is positively Beavanish. He’s pitched around them, and he hasn’t had disaster starts, but he’s giving up plenty of runs, and, well, the M’s aren’t likely to win a slugfest. This would be a nice time for one of Vargas’ shutouts, and the Giants come in with a .291 wOBA against lefties. But Vargas’ has little (if any) platoon splits thanks to his change-heavy repertoire, so I’m not worried that the Giants (who have quite a few switch-hitters) may run out an almost-entirely righty line-up.
Franklin Gutierrez has reclaimed the 2nd spot in the line-up as a slumping Dustin Ackley hits 7th:
1: Ichiro (RF)
2: Gutierrez (CF)
3: Seager (3B)
4: Montero (DH)
5: Saunders (LF)
6: Smoak (1B)
7: Ackley (2B)
8: Olivo (C)
9: Ryan (SS)