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San Francisco Giants: The good and the bad of Madison Bumgarner

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 04: Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the New York Mets during the first inning at Citi Field on June 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 04: Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the New York Mets during the first inning at Citi Field on June 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /
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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – APRIL 13: Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Colorado Rockies in the top of the first inning during a Major League baseball game at Oracle Park on April 13, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The Good

Unlike Yu Darvish in 2017, Bumgarner’s strikeout and walk rates are right in line with his career numbers. In fact, he’s getting swings and misses and striking out players at high rates than he did in 2017 or 2018.

He’s giving up home runs at the highest rate of his career, which fits with both his propensity to allow harder contact, but also the leaguewide trend.

However, the biggest cause of his struggles has been a spike in hits allowed, and some of that can be attributed to bad luck.

His Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) is over 20 points higher than his career and his Left On Base percentage (LOB%) is easily a career low at under 70 percent.

Both of these figures tend to regress to the mean and are generally out of a pitcher’s control. It is fair to wonder if Bumgarner allowing harder contact has resulted in a larger percentage of his balls in play becoming hits. However, there isn’t really the same case to be made with LOB%.

Pitchers generally perform worse with runners in scoring position, but Bumgarner’s splits this year are beyond extreme. With the bases empty, opponents are hitting .237/.286/.417. With runners in scoring position, they’re hitting .362/.373/.507.

Over the course of Bumgarner’s career, hitters actually have a lower OPS with runners in scoring position than with the bases empty. Obviously, Bumgarner isn’t the same pitcher he once was, but there isn’t much explanation for these disparities.

Bumgarner’s career LOB% is 76.5%. In order for him to approach that number so far this season, he would have needed to allow seven fewer runs. If that were the case, his ERA would be 3.63.

Take from this what you want. At the moment, Bumgarner looks like a mid-rotation arm. There’s a reason to believe he’s been better than the surface numbers might suggest, but there are also some troubling trends.

Next. Building a trade with the Atlanta Braves

When the San Francisco Giants do finally move the southpaw, we’ll get a sense of how other teams value this current version of Madison Bumgarner.

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