Ryan Vogelsong struck out a career-high nine batters in the Giants' 3-2 win over the Reds Wednesday.
Vogelsong now has a 2.05 ERA over his last eight starts, and the Giants improved to 9-3 this season in his starts (they were 9-10 last season).
Ryan Vogelsong Last 2 Seasons
How has Vogelsong righted the ship in 2014?
Improved off-speed pitches
Vogelsong had been getting into trouble earlier this season –- and all of last season –- with his off-speed pitches. He primarily throws a changeup and curveball to offset his fastball and cutter, but those pitches had been failing him.
Opponents have hit only .182 against his curveball in his last eight starts and .240 against his changeup. In his first four starts this season and in 2013, opponents combined to hit .348 against his curve and .366 against his change.
The improved curve has been the biggest factor, however. Vogelsong is generating a swing-and-miss 32 percent of the time with his curve in his last eight starts, a 39 percent increase from his 23 starts prior.
Ryan Vogelsong Curveball
Last 2 Seasons
Improvement in tough spots
Vogelsong’s ability to get out of jams has been a key factor for the turnaround as well.
Vogelsong has limited opponents to a .186 batting average with runners in scoring position his last eight starts with no home runs. That’s a big improvement from his .361 batting average and five home runs allowed the previous 23 starts.
By generating more misses (26 percent to 15 percent) while throwing the same number of strikes in these situations, he's allowed fewer balls in play and fewer hits.
Again, one of the biggest factors behind this improvement is the pitch selection. Vogelsong has limited his changeup usage to just 7 percent the past eight games (down from 20 percent), with his curveball making up the difference. Opponents have hit .167 with a 38 percent swing-and-miss rate against his curve with runners in scoring his past eight starts.