Barry Zito was left off the postseason roster all three series for the 2010 world champion Giants. This year, signs point to him being a very important player if the Giants are going to make a run into October.
Former NL ERA leader Ryan Vogelsong gave up seven runs — six earned — in 3 1/3 innings versus the Diamondbacks on Sunday. He’s now allowed 34 earned runs in 29 2/3 innings in his last seven starts, taking his ERA from 2.27 to 3.67 for the season.
Now, that’s still better than Zito’s 4.21 mark. But barring a massive rebound these next two weeks, the Giants aren’t going to have any choice but to pick Zito over Vogelsong next month. The Giants have won Zito’s last eight starts, and while the well-compensated left-hander hasn’t been great in all of them, he has performed very well in holding the Dodgers and Diamondbacks to a combined one run in 13 innings his last two times out. Overall, he has a 4.06 ERA during the streak.
In truth, even though the Giants are going to cruise to an NL West title, they can’t be feeling all that good about things right now. Madison Bumgarner has struggled in his last four starts, and Matt Cain hasn’t been at his sharpest either. While Tim Lincecum is throwing better, it’s come with a lot of walks. It’s the offense that’s been carrying the load of late: the Giants rank third in the NL in runs scored and ninth in runs allowed since the All-Star break.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.