Chad Gaudin

San Francisco Giants: Who Will Be Their Fifth Starter?

August 20, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong (32, left) and catcher Buster Posey (28, right) talk to pitching coach Dave Righetti (33, center) against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning at AT

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

After signing Tim Hudson to a two-year, $23 million deal, the San Francisco Giants have four proven starters on their roster. Matt Cain is their workhorse, Madison Bumgarner is the young ace, and Tim Lincecum is a fan favorite. Hudson is the new face in the starting rotation, but he’s also a proven pitcher who will provide some valuable veteran leadership to the starting pitching staff and clubhouse.

So what are the Giants’ options for their fifth starter? First of all, they could look outside the organization. The Giants have been tied to Ricky Nolasco, Dan Haren, Josh Johnson, and Bronson Arroyo. However, Nolasco is basically out of the running, because he’s seeking a four-year deal, which the Giants aren’t willing to give. Johnson is also out of the mix, because he just signed with the San Diego Padres.

That leaves Haren and Arroyo. The Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers are both reportedly interested in signing Haren, who struggled in late June and early July because of a shoulder injury but was excellent after returning from the DL.

Arroyo would be a great addition to this Giants starting pitching staff. Arroyo finished the 2013 season with a 3.79 ERA, but at AT&T Park, he had a 0.00 ERA in nine innings and a 0.60 ERA against the Giants last season. Arroyo has publicly said that he’d love to pitch in San Francisco, but the Giants haven’t extended him an offer.

The Giants also can look within the organization or to some familiar faces to fill the fifth starter spot. Ryan Vogelsong is one option. The Giants declined his $6.5 million option for the 2014 season, but according to numerous sources, both the Giants and Vogelsong’s agent are interested in discussing a deal to bring Vogelsong back. Vogelsong was a fan favorite and a beloved Giant, so Giants fans would love to see him back.

Vogelsong struggled for much of the beginning of the 2013 season, and then he suffered an unfortunate injury to his right hand right when he was starting to find his groove again. After returning from injury, he had issues with his velocity, his confidence, and his rhythm. However, he appeared to be close to re-gaining his dominant form later in the season.

Another option for the Giants is re-signing Chad Gaudin. Initially, the Giants brought on Gaudin last season to be their long reliever. When Vogelsong went down with his injury, Gaudin stepped into the starting rotation and proved to be a serviceable starter. In his 12 starts last season, he had a 3.53 ERA. Gaudin also served as a mentor to Lincecum and helped him transform into more of a cerebral pitcher. Gaudin was a great veteran to have in the clubhouse, so he’s a great option for the Giants.

One more option for the Giants within the organization is Yusmeiro Petit, who came within one strike of a perfect game last season. Petit started seven games for the Giants near the end of last season, and he finished with a 3.59 ERA and struck out 40 in 42.2 innings. Petit certainly made his case for why he deserves to start for the Giants this upcoming season.

The Giants also still have to find a left fielder or a first basemen, which would lead to moving Brandon Belt to left field. The Giants still have many areas to address in the offseason and many decisions to make on how they want to allocate their money towards addressing those needs.

Obviously, if the Giants want to save some money, it’d be easier to go with Vogelsong, Gaudin, or Petit. Brian Sabean has said that they are willing to spend extra money if they truly believe a free agent is worth the higher cost. Since it appears as if money is no issue, Haren and Arroyo must still be in the mix too. The Giants have many options for filling that last spot in the starting pitching rotation, so it’ll be interesting to see which option they choose.

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San Francisco Giants Midseason Grades: Offense, Defense and Pitching

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Jul 13, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) celebrates with teammates after throwing a no hitter against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. The Giants won 9-0. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 season for the San Francisco Giants has certainly been a disappointment. After winning two World Series titles in three years, the Giants have looked tired this season and are now struggling just to get back to being a .500 team. Going into the All-Star break, the Giants have a 43-51 record, which puts them six and a half games back from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West standings.

One word to sum up the Giants’ season so far: inconsistent. Sometimes, this team looks unstoppable. When the Giants do what got them two World Series titles in the past three years, such as stellar starting pitching, perfect defense, and timely hitting, then they can win a lot of games.

Other times, this team’s effort is laughable. It all starts with the starting pitcher. If the starter gets off to a rough start and gives up some runs, it puts more pressure on the offense and defense, and many times, the Giants can’t recover.

The All-Star break couldn’t come soon enough for the Giants. They could use a break from the long road trips and the mental grind of the game.

Here are the Giants’ midseason grades:

San Francisco Giants: 3 Players They Should Pursue at the Trade Deadline

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

June 2, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Nick Noonan (left) catcher Buster Posey (center) and relief pitcher Sergio Romo (right) celebrate with teammates after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. San Francisco defeated St. Louis 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Out of 15 National League teams, the San Francisco Giants currently rank 13th with a 4.47 ERA for their starters. This is hard to believe given the fact that the Giants have won two World Series titles in the past three seasons behind dominant starting pitching.

Matt Cain struggled in the beginning of the season, Tim Lincecum has been inconsistent, and Barry Zito has a 10.41 ERA on the road. Because of their struggles, many analysts and fans have suggested that the Giants acquire a starting pitcher.

By adding another starting pitcher, the Giants could move Chad Gaudin back into his role as a reliever, which would strengthen the struggling bullpen. In addition, when Ryan Vogelsong comes back from injury, the Giants could also consider moving Lincecum to the bullpen. According to a club source, the Giants would convert Lincecum into a late-inning reliever “in a heartbeat,” and Lincecum said he is open to that change as well.

On the other hand, Bruce Bochy has said the Giants need the most help in the bullpen. If the Giants acquire a relief pitcher, they could continue to use Gaudin as a starter until Vogelsong comes back, and then when Vogelsong is healthy again, the Giants could move Gaudin back into his long reliever role.

The Giants also need a veteran outfielder, with¬†Angel Pagan¬†expected to be out until September, at the earliest. Gregor Blanco, Andres Torres, and Juan Perez are currently filling the void at center field and left field, but they’re collectively not providing enough offense to make up for Pagan’s energy and production in the leadoff spot.

Here are three players that the Giants could acquire at the trade deadline that would fill these needs:

San Francisco Giants: The Irony and Frustration of Ryan Vogelsong

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Ryan Vogelsong came into last night’s game with a 1-4 record and a 8.06 ERA, which was the highest ERA among all qualified starting pitchers in the National League. The good news for the San Francisco Giants is that Vogelsong looked spectacular in his start last night against the Nationals. The bad news is that Vogelsong was hit by a pitch mid-swing in the fifth inning. The worse news is that he dislocated a joint in his pinky on his pitching hand and has fractures above and below the knuckle. Vogelsong will have surgery today at Stanford Hospital and will be out for at least 4-6 weeks. Pins will likely be inserted into his pinky during surgery to assist the healing process.

May 20, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong (32) follows through on a pitch against the Washington Nationals in the second inning at AT

Although the recovery is listed at 4-6 weeks, it will most likely take longer than that though for him to return to full strength. Vogelsong won’t be able to pitch until he’s fully healed and then will have to build up his arm strength again.

“It stinks,” Vogelsong said. “It stinks because it had been so rough, to go out there and feel like my old self again…it stinks.”

Vogelsong was having his best start of the season before his unfortunate injury occurred. He pitched five innings on 79 pitches (49 strikes), allowed three hits, struck out two, and walked one. He faced 19 batters and induced seven groundouts and four flyouts. With this quality performance, Vogelsong got the win tonight and improved his record to 2-4. His command of his fastball and changeup were great, he looked confident again, he gained count leverage several times, and he was able to hit the corners of the strike zone accurately, which is when he’s at his best.

Vogelsong also had two straight 1-2-3 innings in the first and second, and he showed he was able to get outs when he needed them. Angel Pagan helped him out in the second inning with a fantastic catch on Adam LaRoche’s deep flyout to center field. In the third inning, Zach Duke and Denard Span hit back-to-back singles, and Vogelsong was able to get out of it by getting Steve Lombardozzi to fly out. Vogelsong forced LaRoche to hit into a double play in the fourth inning to get out of a jam, and he forced Span to ground out after walking Craig Stammen.

Vogelsong has shown issues maintaining his consistency when pitching through an opponent’s batting order for a second time. However, after facing the Nationals’ lineup a second time, Vogelsong still had great command of his fastball and changeup and seemed to make the right adjustments in order to get outs. For example, Vogelsong struck out Bryce Harper in the first inning and got him to ground out in the fourth inning. It appeared as if he had resolved any mechanical issues that had been bothering him the past couple weeks. It also helped that Vogelsong received six runs of support in his five innings pitched.

“It’s a real shame because tonight he was the Vogey that we know,” Bruce Bochy said. “It’s a tough one. We feel bad for him.”

The Giants have been very lucky that their starting pitching staff hasn’t suffered any serious injuries in the past couple years. The starting rotation has struggled so far this season but not because of any serious injuries. With Vogelsong expected to be out about six weeks, the other starting pitchers have to step up now more than ever. The Giants will most likely make a roster decision soon as to who will replace Vogelsong’s spot in the lineup until he’s fully recovered. So what options do the Giants have?

1. Activate LHP Mike Kickham from Fresno.

Unfortunately, the Giants don’t have much depth at the starting pitcher position in their minor league system. Kickham currently has a 4.72 ERA, but he has looked much better this past month. In his last four starts, the left-hander has a 2-1 record, a 1.80 ERA, 25 strikeouts, and six walks. Kickham is still young, but he’s the most viable option out of Fresno for the Giants.

Apr 3, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants reliever Chad Gaudin (57) delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The Giants defeated the Dodgers 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2. Move Chad Gaudin into a starting role.

Gaudin has been used as the long reliever so far this season, and he’s done well. He has a 2.10 ERA this season, and his longest outing was when he threw 72 pitches in relief of Vogelsong on May 15th. Gaudin is a versatile veteran who has starting, closing, and relief experience and could easily step into the role of a starting pitcher if needed to.

If Gaudin moved into a starting role, the Giants could potentially call up a pitcher like Heath Hembree from Fresno to fill Gaudin’s previous role. Hembree has had a fantastic season so far with the Grizzlies and was expected to be called up at some point in the season because of his stellar pitching. The right-hander has a 2.70 ERA, 21 strikeouts, and five walks in 19 games this season. The Giants could also choose to not make an additional roster move after moving Gaudin to a starting role, because they are already carrying 13 pitchers since they recalled Jean Machi from Fresno on Saturday.

It’s just a matter of time until the Giants make a move. They have an off-day on Thursday, so the Giants could potentially just skip Vogelsong’s next start while keeping the rest of the starters on their normal rest schedule. However, it’s not clear if the Giants would want to disrupt the normal rest pattern for the other starters in order to buy themselves a couple extra days.

As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle said, Vogelsong has come back from having Tommy John surgery, pitching overseas in Japan, and being cut from several other major league clubs. He’s a fighter and will surely come back from this injury stronger than ever. It’s both ironic and sad that Vogelsong was having his best start of the season when he suffered such a horrible injury. Baseball can be rough sometimes. However, Vogelsong is one of the hardest workers on the team, and the Giants will try their best to win games without him.