What about Plan C for Giants?

Even before the Giants lost Game 3, the question was out there: Should Madison Bumgarner start Game 4?

This came up for a couple of reasons. One, Bumgarner has lately seemed practically unhittable. And two, Ryan Vogelsong, whose turn comes up next in the rotation, seems eminently hittabble. Combine their actual talents with their recent performances, and you’ve got a pretty powerful argument for bumping Vogelsong for Bumgarner.

I agree with Ken Rosenthal, though: It’s not a particularly compelling argument, for a number of reasons.

But even if we agree that Bumgarner shouldn’t start on short rest, must we also agree that Vogelsong should start Game 4? Not necessarily. As Matthew Pouliot suggested the other day, Yusmeiro Petit might actually be the better choice:

It’€™s not that Vogelsong is an awful choice to start Game 4 against the Royals. Petit is simply the better one. And if manager Bruce Bochy didn’t use Petit in Wednesday’€™s Game 2 loss to the Royals because he figures he might need him to go long in Vogelsong’s place on Saturday, then the obvious move is to simply go to Petit as the starter in the first place.

–snip–

And facing the Royals in AT&T Park seems like a pretty ideal matchup for Petit. His issue is the home run ball. He’€™d be going against a team that doesn’€™t hit home runs in a ballpark that doesn’€™t give up many.

But it won’t happen. Petit seems to be the fallback. He’€™s getting saved for situations that might never materialize.

Petit against the Royals in AT&T Park would be the optimal match-up, considering his propensity for giving up fly balls (and home runs). Among the 362 pitchers who have thrown at least 350 innings in the last nine seasons, Petit ranks 11th (lowest) in ground-ball percentage, and sixth (highest) in home runs per nine innings. So he’s particularly vulnerable to left-handed power hitting in a power-friendly ballpark … so basically the opposite of Game 4.

But aside from the home runs, Petit’s been brilliant this season, is probably the Giants’ second-best starting pitcher if you lop a few homers from his record.

Essentially, Bochy needs to figure a way to get Petit involved in the World Series. He’s too good to be left rotting away in the bullpen.