Stunning: Ryan Vogelsong to start Game 3 for San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong pitches to the San Diego Padres during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 28, 2012 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

I’m stunned. Absolutely stunned.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced Sunday who will start Game 3 in Cincinnati: Ryan Vogelsong.

After Vogelsong pitched last week in Los Angeles — his third consecutive solid start after a very rough patch in August and early September — I felt Vogelsong was the best option for Game 3.

He has allowed one earned run in 17 innings over his last three starts. He’s back to the Vogelsong of old.

Tim Lincecum has just been to inconsistent this season, especially of late.

In his final two starts of the regular seasons, Lincecum got tagged for 11 earned runs in 10 innings.

And Barry Zito is, well, Barry Zito.

I felt best about Vogelsong in Game 3, regardless of the situation. I’m sure most Giants fans feel the same way.

I just wasn’t sure if Bruce Bochy would feel the same.

Bochy’s M.O. over the years have been to go with players who have success in the past — not necessarily in the present.

We saw it all last year when he sided with a struggling Aubrey Huff, instead of Brandon Belt. And there have been numerous others examples.

With Bochy, sometimes it seems more about loyalty than results.

I thought Bochy would go with Lincecum in Game 3, and Zito in Game 4, with Vogelsong coming out of the pen.

There is some logic to that strategy as Vogelsong is probably the best suited of the three to work out of the pen.

Bochy did not announce who would pitch Game 4, “but we have a pretty good idea of what we want to do,” he said.

Translation: Barry Zito pitches Game 4. But Bochy is leaving that option open, depending on what happens in Games 2 and 3.

The Giants have won the last 11 games in which Barry Zito has started, dating back to Aug. 7 in St. Louis. Zito was 5-0 in his last five starts, allowing eight earned runs in 30.2 innings (a 2.35 ERA). And the Reds have several key left-handed bats in their lineup.

Bochy said he talked to Lincecum and he’s ready to do anything he can to help the team, which Bochy said includes coming out of the pen.

Again, another sign that Zito is the Game 4 option.

But Lincecum out of the pen? I’m not so sure about that.

Lincecum posted a 7.64 ERA this season in the first inning of games. That doesn’t speak to a lot of confidence of him coming out of the pen. He’s struggled to find his rhythm early.

So is Lincecum only an option to pitch as an innings eater in the event the Giants fall behind big early in the game?

If so, it seems like a waste of a roster spot. But he is a two-time Cy Young winner. Although those trophies don’t get you any outs this October.
So it’s Ryan Vogelsong in Game 3, Barry Zito probably in Game 4, Matt Cain in Game 5. And Tim Lincecum in the pen.
I bet you Chris Lincecum, Timmy’s daddy, is going nuts right about now.

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