I know that he’s nearly 37 years old. I know that he was injured for most of 2013, and ineffective through the other parts. I know that his first few starts of 2014 didn’t exactly do a lot to inspire confidence.
But I also know that Ryan Vogelsong has been one of the hottest pitchers in the game over his last five outings.
Ryan Vogelsong, Last 5 Starts
Vogelsong’s fantasy ownership rate is miniscule and when we see that with a hot player — especially a pitcher– we have to ask this. Are we buying or selling this guy? So, let’s look a little deeper at the Giants right-hander.
The Hot Streak
Let’s get this one out of the way right now. Who exactly has this hot streak been against?
- Cleveland Indians: The Tribe currently ranks seventh in runs scored, so his strong outing against them was definitely a positive sign. The only thing to really note is that while the Indians have a potent offense, that game was in San Francisco, so the American League offense was missing a DH.
- Atlanta Braves (Twice): The Braves are currently in first place and while they have some dangerous hitters in the lineup, they’re at or near the bottom of the league in nearly every offensive category. Atlanta is in first place, but are enjoying that because of good pitching. The offense is still waiting to find another gear.
- Los Angeles Dodgers: They definitely appear to be stuck in the mud through the early part of the year, but the Dodgers actually rank in the Top-10 in pretty much every offensive category. You can’t ask for much more from a starter against an offense like this.
- Miami Marlins: Not necessarily what you’d expect, but the Marlins are a Top-5 offense in pretty much every category. Shutting them down was definitely impressive.
These aren’t the four teams that come to my mind as the best offenses in baseball, but other than the Braves, we’re talking about potent scoring offenses thus far.
Some definite potential traps exist. Vogelsong starts today and assuming he starts every fifth game on the Giants schedule, this is what the rest of his first half will look like.
- vs. Minnesota Twins: Average to above average in most offensive categories. The game in San Francisco is a break as it’s not only a great pitcher’s park but like the Indians, the Twins will be without a DH.
- at St. Louis Cardinals: Starting to come around, but have still been a surprisingly mediocre offense this year. Not a comfortable start for pitchers.
- at Cincinnati Reds:Much like the Braves above, a team that should have a much better offense than they’ve had this year. Being in Cincinnati will make things more interesting.
- vs. Washington Nationals:An offense that should be producing more than it has been. The game being in San Francisco is a nice break for Vogelsong.
- vs. Colorado Rockies:A potent offense, but different when they go away from Coors Field. Plenty of danger, for sure, but another solid break.
- at Arizona Diamondbacks:Chase Field is a tough place to pitch, but this has been a bad year for the D-Backs. Avoid Paul Goldschmidt and if he returns by then, Mark Trumbo, and you have a good chance to succeed.
- vs. Cincinnati Reds: Only two things are different about this start than the one above. One: It’s in San Francisco — Advantage, Vogelsong. Two: Joey Votto might be back. Advantage: Reds. Cincinnati isn’t comfortable for pitchers, but they need to be a lot better before you bench hot pitchers against them.
- vs. St. Louis Cardinals: An advantage being at home but generally, same note as above.
- at Oakland Athletics: No breaks here. Vogey will see a DH and a very strong lineup.
- vs. Arizona Diamondbacks:An even better matchup than the one a few starts prior.
Again, traps exist, but I’m not exactly expecting an implosion.
The big one here is the walks, and that really looms against teams that really preach sabermetrics, like the A’s.
Now, even in his best years of 2011 and 2012, Vogelsong was a little prone to giving up the walk. So, the BB/9 of 2.7 over this run doesn’t look that bad. Heck, it’s actually better than he had in 2011 and 2012.
But as the season gets deeper and deeper, your stuff begins to falter a bit, especially as you get older. Issuing the free passes will lead to some trouble.
Buy or Sell
Right now, I’m buying.
Granted, I’ve seen Vogelsong struggle before and he has a tendency to move from hot to cold and cold to hot pretty seamlessly. But he’s striking guys out now and limiting solid contact. As we went over, he’s not really doing this against bad teams. Throw in the fact that AT&T Park generally has his back, and it gets even better.