Ryan Vogelsong out 4-6 weeks with broken finger; what are the options?
Last season, the Giants have five pitchers make 30 or more starts. No team has done that in back-to-back seasons in about 30 years.
And the Giants won’t be doing it again.
Ryan Vogelsong, in the midst of easily his best start of the season, broke two bones in the pinkie of his pitching hand when he was hit by a pitch while swinging at the ball.
Vogelsong will have surgery on his hand Tuesday and is expected to be out four to six weeks. That would put his return date in early July.
“It stinks,” Vogelsong said. ” Especially because it’s been so rough. To go out there and feel like my old self again … it stinks.”
Vogelsong pitched five shutout innings against the Nationals, giving up three hits with two strikeouts.
After Vogelsong’s last start in Toronto, there was talk about taking him out of the rotation. After five innings Monday, it appeared that Vogelsong had put to rest that discussion.
Now, the Giants must consider options. Here are a couple.
CHAD GAUDIN: Gaudin was signed last offseason to work as a long man out of the bullpen — something the Giants have gone without frequently in recent seasons — and a spot starter. Gaudin has been very good out of the pen, posting a 2.10 ERA in 25.2 innings. Gaudin has made 75 starts over his 11-year career, but none since 2009 with the Yankees. He also had a 72-pitch relief appearance in Vogelsong’s previous start in Toronto. Manager Bruce Bochy said Gaudin is a candidate, but added that he likes his value as a long reliever.
YUSMEIRO PETIT: Petit was considered a candidate for the rotation when Barry Zito struggled in spring training last season. And he was one of only two pitchers not named Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum, Zito or Vogelsong to start a game for the Giants last season. But he is 2-3 with 6.69 ERA at Triple-A Fresno and has allowed nine home runs. But but he also has 46 strikeouts against just nine walks.
SHANE LOUX: Loux has been Fresno’s most consistent starter at 4-1 with a 3.68 ERA. But his stuff doesn’t really translate into big-league stuff. He made a brief stint with the Giants last season, posting a 4.97 ERA in 25.1 innings.
CHRIS HESTON: The Giants had hoped Heston, the 2012 Eastern League pitcher of the year, would be the next arm produced in the system. But his transition to Triple-A has been bumpy. He’s 5-2 with 5.33 ERA. He gave up three runs in 5.0 to 6.2 innings in six of his nine starts. He got tagged for 5 runs in 5 innings in one other start, and seven innings in 3 innings in another. But he had his best start in his most recent start, giving up 0 runs on 3 hits in 7 innings.
MIKE KICKHAM: The lefty had a rough spring, then got off to a slow start at Fresno. He’s 2-4 with a 4.72 ERA. But in his last four starts, he’s 2-1 with 1.80 ERA with 25 strikeouts against six walks.
WHAT MORESPLASHHITS THINKS: The Giants should start with Gaudin. Yeah, he’s been good out of the pen, but the Giants have a lot of good relievers down in Fresno: Dan Runzler, Steve Edlefsen, Ramon Ramirez, Sandy Rosario or Jake Dunning. They could even call up Loux to work as the new long man.
And please, Bochy, use the schedule in your favor. The Giants have four days off in June, including three in an eight-day stretch (June 3-10). Even if Bochy doesn’t take advantage of Thursday’s day off — which would only gain them a couple of days — Gaudin could start on Sunday and May 31, then he wouldn’t be needed again until June 15.
If Vogelsong returns quickly (four weeks), the Giants would only need three starts from Gaudin (or any fifth starter). If Vogey’s hiatus is on the longer side (six weeks), it would be five starts IF they use the days off to skip the No. 5 starter.
That’s the best plan.