On Ryan Vogelsong

We're all in agreement that Ryan Vogelsong doesn't make any sense. He was here, we had hopes for him, he was traded away, he was hurt, he was forgotten, and then all of a sudden, he shows up and quietly becomes one of the best pitchers in a rotation filled with good pitchers.

He's like a character from a Kurosawa movie. He's going to be standing in the middle of carnage, sheathing a wakizashi, and saying that he has to return home now. The warning signs were were all there. And by "warning signs", I mean "I've clearly watched too many Kurosawa movies, but, dammit, this fits."

The corollary of him arriving so quickly out of nowhere is that we should be waiting for him to disappear just as quickly. The Cinderella fetishists like to describe this as "turning into a pumpkin," but you might prefer "waiting for the other shoe to drop." Except Vogelsong never takes us to that dark place. He never makes us think, ruh roh, here's the bad Vogelsong. He's back now. Fun while it lasted.

The last time he gave up more than four runs: August 8, 2011. But he struck out eight in that game. Even when he was allowing five earned runs, his stuff was promising. Before that, he allowed six runs (three earned) against the Cubs on June 28, 2011. And on May 3, 2011, he gave up five earned runs and two home runs after walking four. That was his second start with the Giants last year. It was the only time he didn't make it through at least five innings.

So where it would be natural to have those moments of doubt with a surprise-story like Vogelsong, he never gives us the chance. He never gets completely shellacked. His starts since rejoining the Giants last year:

5 innings: 1
5-plus: 8
6-plus: 12
7-plus: 15
8-plus: 3

No complete games yet. But in his 11 starts this year, only once did he fail to make it into the seventh inning. For a team that is a man short in the bullpen (and occasionally two or three men short), Vogelsong has been ridiculously reliable this year. He was ridiculously reliable last year. He's just kind of ridiculous.

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