Game 3: Vogelsong vs. Bailey
Ryan Vogelsong: San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy opted to go with Vogelsong in Game 3, even though he pitched poorly for much of the final two months. Bochy was encouraged with how Vogelsong finished the regular season, allowing one run his last 17 innings.
Homer Bailey: Bailey couldn't have asked for a much better ending to regular season, tossing a no-hitter in Pittsburgh following by four shutout innings in St. Louis. He currently boasts 13 consecutive shutout innings and a 1.85 ERA in his past seven starts.Vogelsong ended the season as the Giants hottest starter, so it was not surprising that he got the call to be the third starter. He ended with 3 DOM starts, whereas Bumgarner had 2 DOM starts sandwiched by 2 DIS starts, with that DIS start leading into the post-season and clearly he did not figure out his mechanical problems for his first playoff game, as he was hit pretty hard. Cain had ended nicely as well, but Zito actually had a better month of PQS than Cain, and still, I would note that had Bochy let Cain pitch one more inning and Cain got through that unscathed, he would have had a DOM start in that first game. But when you are down 3-0, you need to pull the trigger when a runner is on base because we have a great bullpen, usually.
Ryan has a long history in Cincy but the only ones that really count is 2011-2012, when he was as good as he is now, plus those are his only starts. He has done fair there, keeping the team in the game but giving up more runs than usual: last season 3 ER in 6.0 IP and this season 4 ER in 6.0 IP. Last season was only a 2 PQS start, but this season was a 4 PQS or DOM start.
Phillips, Rolen, Bruce, Frazier, Ludwick have all hit him well (check it out) and while he can get Votto out, he still walked him a lot. Even Homer Bailey got a hit off him. Assuming these guys are in the lineup, Vogie looks to have a rough time in this start. He will have to come up big here, both to win and to save some face for the team in this series.
The team has to face things one game at a time right now. For they face a daunting task, as no team in the history of divisional play has won 3 straight on the road in a five game format. However, the Giants played great on the road in the second half of 2012, 23-11, and swept Colorado, LAD, and Houston on the road. Also, in baseball, you wait long enough, you will see almost everything, as the Red Sox in 2004 came back down even worse, 0-3, to win four games and the series, taking four from the Yankees, 2 at home and then 2 on the road.
Bailey has not done well against the Giants in his career. 5.25 ERA in 2 starts in Cincy, 5.82 ERA in 3 starts in SF. However, he had a DOM (4 PQS) start against the Giants (and Vogelsong) earlier this season, 6.1 IP, giving up 7 hits and 2 walks, striking out 6 with no HR. He has done equally well against RHB and LHB in his career, though not that great until this season, when he had a very successful season handling LHB, which is an anomaly since he is a RHP. Plus he has been much worse at home than on the road, 5.13 ERA at home, 3.78 ERA on the road, and that continued this season, 5.16 ERA at home, 2.32 ERA on the road.
He ended with a great month of September with PQS: 5, 5, 4, 4, 4, 5, then 0 but only because he was taken out early, he had 4.0 IP, giving up 4 hits and 0 walks, striking out 6, with no HR or runs. So he essentially had 7 DOM starts in September/October and thus the Giants offense are heading into what is probably a chainsaw.
Most Giants hitters have not done well (see here but the caveat is, as always, small samples in matchups) against Homer, but Pagan, Nady, Arias, and Belt have a nice batting line against him.
With their backs up against the wall, the Giants find themselves in familiar, though more dire straits. Many times during the season, the team faced bad circumstances and the team bounced back. When Cain had his statement game in May when he redefined what being Cained means. When the D-gers swept them 3 games at home to regain a tie for the NL West Division lead. When Melky was suspended. When the D-gers made the A-Gon trade. Will they bounce back from this?
Unfortunately, the odds say no, at least not fully all the way. And the way Bailey has been pitching, at minimum, it should be a tough game to win because the offense will probably be hamstrung, and Vogelsong has not been particularly Vogelstrong in Cincy's GAB.
However, Bailey is having his first real successful season, at age 26, after 5 seasons of unmet superstar expectations that his minor league numbers at a young age encouraged. And really, the only difference this season is that he got his road ERA down a lot, as his home numbers are still pretty bad. He might have had DOM starts at home this month, but his ERA there was still 3.54, so he was good but not great. And he had a 5.16 ERA at home this season, not much different from his 5.13 ERA for his career, so that suggests that our offense should be able to pick up against him in this game.
That is the hope for our team in Game 3, that Homer is as bad as he has been at home, and that might get our offense going and build some confidence and momentum into Game 4, if the offense and Vogelsong can perform in this game and win it (in which case, Zito has been announced the Game 4 starter, should the Giants win; would have been nicer for the ego if Zito was named before the Giants lost, as there is the possibility now that Zito might not get the start if the Giants are swept). Otherwise, our promising season will have ended earlier than hoped and a long off-season will begin not that long from the ending of the season for most teams anyway.
Either way, the Giants have had a great season, despite a lot of big losses, Wilson, Franchez, Huff, Melky, Sandoval for big chunks of time, and poor performances, Lincecum mostly, but also Sandoval after coming off the DL. And mostly the shining performance of MVP (of the team if not the NL) Posey, what a gamer and leader he has proved to be, way more than any Giants fan could have hoped for in 2012.