Strikeouts: Madison Bumgarner
While they really don’t mean anything to wins and losses, strikeouts still have meaning for fans and also allow a defense to have a little rest. And with the Giants defense, most pitchers should be giving them as many opportunities as possible so they can keep their pitch count down. But Bumgarner still has one of the most deceptive motions in baseball, and when he is throwing strikes he is as tough to hit as anyone.
That is the main difference between a good pitcher and a great one. A good one can have a great game once in a while and surprise the opposition. A great one surprises the other team when they don’t. So the expectation level for Bumgarner over the last few years has been high based on him having to be perfect in order for the team to compete. He now has some rotation help that is in its prime, and a lineup that is formidable.
But Bumgarner will still fool most hitters at the plate, and they will need to take advantage of the one or two hittable pitches they have per at-bat. (Which is easier said than done). My prediction: 196 strikeouts which will place him 10th in the National League, with Matt Cain bouncing back in a big way with 170 and competing for Comeback Player of the Year.