Chad Gaudin did it again on Friday.
Gaudin, the journeyman pitcher who joined his Xth team this spring when he signed with the Giants, turned in his best performance of the season when he limited the Diamondbacks to three hits and no walks or runs over seven innings in the Giants’ 2-0 win on Friday. He struck out eight, improved his record to 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.15.
He is 4-0 with 2.23 in seven starts since moving to the rotation in place of the injured Ryan Vogelsong.
Since coming off the DL after being hit in the arm with a line drive, Gaudin is 2-0 with 0.95 ERA over three starts.
Manager Bruce Bochy admitted that it would be hard to remove Gaudin from the rotation when Vogelsong returns from his stint on the DL next month.
So it left many Giants fans to wonder: Who goes to the pen when Vogey returns? Vogey? Gaudin? Tim Lincecum? Barry Zito?
Well, the answer may have come Saturday afternoon.
Ryan Vogelsong threw 40 pitches in the bullpen, then 35 more from the main mound at AT&T Park to coaches Shawon Dunston and Roberto Kelly as well as outfielder Gregor Blanco.
“I came out of it healthy,” he told the San Jose Mercury News. “I took out of it what I needed to. The hand feels good, the arm feels good.”
Barring any setback, Vogelsong’s next step to pitch in an Arizona Rookie League game next week, then a start with Class A San Jose and another with Double-A Richmond. The “soft” return date to the Giants is Aug. 9.
August 9, eh? Hmmm. That could be very telling. Take a look at how the Giants’ rotation sets up between now and then.
- July 20 vs. Diamondbacks (Cain)
- July 21 vs. Diamondbacks (Bumgarner)
- July 22 vs. Reds (Lincecum)
- Jul 23 DH vs. Reds (Zito and TBD – either Yusmeiro Pettit, Mike Kickham or Eric Surkamp; Pettit seems longshot as it would require opening a spot on the 40-man roster).
- July 24 vs. Reds (Gaudin)
- July 26 vs. Cubs (Cain)
- July 27 vs. Cubs (Bumgarner)
- July 28 vs. Cubs (Lincecum)
Now, the Giants have two upcoming days off — July 25 and July 29. If they stay on turn, Zito would pitch on July 30 in Philadelphia to open a six-game road trip. It would also mean Zito would pitch twice on that road trip.
Considering Zito has been so dreadful on the road — he is 0-6 with 9.89 ERA on the road compared to 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA at home — it would wise to use those off days to skip Zito’s turn in the rotation, limiting him to one start on the road trip. Then the rotation would look like this:
- July 30 at Philadelphia (Gaudin)
- July 31 at Philadelphia (Cain)
- Aug. 1 at Philadelphia (Bumgarner)
- Aug. 2 at Tampa Bay (Lincecum)
- Aug. 3 at Tampa Bay (Zito)
- Aug. 4 at Tampa Bay (Gaudin)
- Aug. 5 vs. Milwaukee (Cain)
- Aug. 6 vs. Milwaukee (Bumgarner)
- Aug. 7 vs. Milwaukee (Lincecum)
That would mean that Zito’s next turn in the rotation would fall on August 8, at home vs. the Brewers. Vogelsong’s soft return date is Aug. 9. That means Vogelsong’s soft return date would plot him right between Zito and Gaudin in the rotation, meaning either could easily be bumped.
Or the Giants could even tinker with a six-man rotation, in which Zito gets skipped on the road.
We’ve been busy here at MoreSplashHits over the past two weeks, so we haven’t been blogging much.
But the last time we posted on the blog we discussed options to replace Ryan Vogelsong in the rotation.
For those of you missed it, our conclusion was Chad Gaudin was the best option.
Bruce Bochy decided to go with Mike Kickham in his major league debut last Tuesday against the A’s.
And as you’ll recall, it didn’t go so well. And that shouldn’t be a big surprise. Making the adjustment from Triple-A to the big leagues is not easy for pitchers.
Mistakes become home runs in the big leagues. That isn’t always the case in the minors. In the minors, you’ll see more hitters who will help you out of a jam than in the bigs.
Those two lessons were taught to Kickham in his start on Tuesday, and they were the reasons he could not make it out of the third inning. After his one start, Kickham was sent back to Triple-A and he’ ll make a start for Fresno on Monday. It’s worth keeping an eye on him. We think he’ll be back with the big club soon as the need arises.
After Kickham exited on Tuesday, who came in to carry the pitching load? Chad Gaudin.
While Gaudin hadn’t started a game since 2008, his work in the bullpen this season in long relief made him seem like the best option. The Giants have a lot of good relievers in Fresno, and it seemed like the best move to start Gaudin and call up someone from Fresno to fill his void in the bullpen.
The Giants went with their Plan A (Kickham) and it didn’t work. They went with Plan B (Gaudin) on Sunday, and it did work.
No surprise to us.
Gaudin pitched six solid innings, giving up only a two-run home run to David Freese in the fourth inning, in a 4-2 win over the Cardinals.
Sunday’s performance earned Gauin another start on Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It’s a decision that’s a little odd, since the Giants have three days off over the next eight days, meaning the Giants don’t need a No. 5 starter until June 15.
By pitching him on Sunday, it seems that Bochy intends to throw Gaudin in the No. 5 spot all month. On June 11, the Giants begin a stretch in which they play 16 games in 16 days, a stretch in which Gaudin would make three starts.
So while we like the Giants’ decision to go with Gaudin in the rotation, we question the decision to not use the off days to skip his spot in the rotation.
Hopefully that decision won’t come back to bite Bochy, too.
It meant that the Giants opened camp with three open reserve jobs to be won during spring training.
For one of those three spots, a victor was proclaimed on Tuesday when the Giants purchased Chad Gaudin‘s contract and added him to the 40-man roster. The Giants had to make the move Tuesday under new Collective Bargaining Agreement.