You know, if they’re not going to use him in relief.
Yusmeiro Petit was the Giants’ second best reliever this year. In 49 innings out of the pen, he had a 1.84 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP and 59 strikeouts. He was almost a perfect match for Giants closer Santiago Casilla, except for how they were used (both had the same WHIP and .177 batting-averages against Casilla had a 1.70 ERA, but gave up two unearned runs compared to none for Petit).
Petit wasn’t quite as successful as a starter, mostly because of the home run ball. He gave up 11 in his 12 starts, which resulted in a 5.03 ERA even tough he had an exceptional 74/11 K/BB ratio and 1.13 WHIP in 68 innings. Still, most of those struggles were early on. After entering the rotation for good on Aug. 28, Petit had a 3.93 ERA in his final six starts.
Ryan Vogelsong was less good during that span; he had a 5.53 ERA in five during September. In the postseason, he’s had one fine outing against the Nationals (1 ER in 5 2/3 IP) and one lousy outing against the Cardinals (4 ER in 3 IP).
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.
Petit has saved the Giants’ bacon twice so far in the postseason, pitching six innings in the marathon Game 2 against the Nationals and three innings in relief of Vogelsong in Game 4 of the NLCS. He allowed a total of two hits while not giving up any runs in those outings. He fanned 11. The Giants might not have won either game without him.
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.
I don’t blame Bruce Bochy for eschewing Petit in Game 2. After Jake Peavy left a tie game in the sixth, Bochy thought he was going to get through the last four innings with his five cogs: Jean Machi, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo and Casilla. That was never a situation for Petit in the regular season, nor was it a situation he’s been used in during the postseason. Apart from a poor first half from Romo, those five guys got the job done for the Giants all season long. They’re the close-game relievers. Petit is the break-glass-in-case-of-emergency guy.
But Petit is too good for that role. He’s allowed 99 hits, walked 26 (six intentionally) and struck out 144 in 126 innings this year. He can make a difference, if the Giants let him.