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Ryan Vogelsong and a Note on Clay Hensley

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From Henry Schulman:

Pablo Sandoval hit a walk-off home run, Ryan Theriot's nose turned into a bloody spigot when he was hit by a pickoff throw, Eric Surkamp had an MRI exam, pitcher Ramon Ortiz was released, Freddy Sanchez was absent after getting a cortisone shot and Brian Wilson pitched in a Cactus League game for the first time in nine days.

Quite nice for Mr. Schulman to sum everything up from yesterday like that. The part he gets to later is probably the most important piece of news: Ryan Vogelsong pitched very well in his spring debut. His fastball was crisp, and his breaking ball broken in all the right ways. It was a good sign.

With Surkamp out (and the MRI showed only a strain), the Giants would probably use Clay Hensley -- the only other option on the 40-man roster already -- as the replacement starter if Vogelsong couldn't go. And Hensley is much better as a reliever:

I Split ERA G IP H HR BB SO SO/9
as Starter 4.64 49 271.2 267 28 122 164 5.4
as Reliever 2.96 162 194.2 154 6 87 165 7.6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table Generated 3/27/2012.


It's not the hugest sample size, and there's a caveat that just about every pitcher gets a strikeout-rate bump when he moves to the pen, but the difference is striking. When Hensley pitches out of the bullpen, he's pretty good. When he starts, he's just a guy. There are teams that hit enough to get by with a rotation featuring slightly below-average innings-eaters. The Giants ...

...

... wait for it ...

...

... probably aren't one of those teams. That's one of the reasons Zito is so noticeable. That and all of the bad pitching. And the salary. And the bad pitching. But this isn't about Zito. This about Vogelsong being okay, and the Giants being able to ignore the possibility of moving Clay Hensley to the rotation. Until Zito struggles. Dang it, there he is again.