Ryan Vogelsong has been one of baseball's best stories over the last two seasons. The journey was just as impressive as the numbers he had. His career came full circle last year when he made his return to the San Francisco Giants, 13 years after they originally drafted him. After six unsuccessful seasons in the Major Leagues and a stint in Japan, Vogelsong returned to the States and subsequently finished eleventh in Cy Young voting and received his first All-Star Game selection. Great story right? A once well-regarded prospect flames out, has to play in Japan, and then returns to the team that drafted him to post a phenomenal season and a half? Quick, get the copyright on his story; this stuff belongs on the big screen! But with three weeks left in Vogelsong's second season, it looks like this story that was once too good to be true could have a rather unpleasant end.
It's hard not to like Ryan Vogelsong. He's a great clubhouse guy, works hard, and is as humble as professional athletes come. He knows how blessed he is (or luck, all depends on how you look at life) to not only be back in the majors, but to be thriving as well. But over the last month, pre-2011 Vogelsong has been on the mound, not the Ace disguised as a back-end of the rotation guy. He picked up where 2011 left off, posting great numbers over the first half, quelling fans concerns that 2011 was not a fluke. The second half has not been as kind. Over the last 30 days, Vogelsong has an ERA of 7.60 (his season ERA now rests at 3.40), and has allowed 34 hits in only 23 and two-thirds innings. His Strikeout to Walk ratio remains great over those 30 days, striking out nearly five and half batters for every walk. Vogelsong is a pitch to contact kind of guy, but guys are hitting him just like they did for most of his career.
Before 2011, Vogelsong's ERA was 5.94, more than three points higher than his '11 ERA of 2.71. His numbers across the board this year are very similar to what they were last year. The only outliers are earned runs and ERA (which are obviously related). Vogelsong looks like he has just been getting beat this year. He's already allowed more home runs than last season, and while his WHIP is actually lower than it was last year, runs are being scored. The postseason is right around the corner, and the Giants will need 2011 Vogelsong to make a run at a second title in three years. But with numbers not able to explain his struggles, Vogelsong may just be regressing, allowing more extra base hits and allowing walks to score. Vogelsong is also 35 years old. He might be reaching the end of the line here; pitchers traditionally don't last much longer than 35 (at least those that try to effectively start). While most fairytales end "happily ever after," this may not be the ending to his story that Vogelsong imagined.