After allowing four runs in three and one-third innings to the Phillies on Tuesday, an outing which boosted his ERA to 5.09, Giants manager Bruce Bochy moved him from the starting rotation to the bullpen. He was scheduled to start on Sunday against the Rays, but Guillermo Moscoso will get the nod instead. Additionally, Ryan Vogelsong is a week away from returning, so the Giants have several options while Zito takes a break.
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“Sometimes it’s just time for a change,” said Bochy, whose club is 0-9 in Zito’s starts away from AT&T Park. “You get in a rut and it’s just kind of been that kind of year for Barry. He pitched so well last year. But we did this in 2011, backed him off, and he pitched well.
“How long this is going to be, I couldn’t tell you.”
At 48-59 in last place in the NL West, the Giants will use at least some of the remaining two months to see what they have in Moscoso and Vogelsong. Moscoso was acquired in a trade with the Cubs on July 26, while Vogelsong has been out with a fractured pinky since May 21.
Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.
“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”
Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.
The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.