1. Madison Bumgarner will finish the season with a sub-3.00 ERA in the second half
There seem to be only two types of baseball fans left: ones that still believe Madison Bumgarner is a few small adjustments away from returning to the pitcher he was from 2011-2016 and ones who believe he’s now just a solid back-end starter.
That’s a bit of an oversimplification. Since the ill-fated dirt bike incident in 2017, the trends in velocity, strikeouts, and contact have provided plenty of reason for skepticism that he was anything more than an innings-eater at this point.
His velocity rebounded this season, but he continued to surrender lots of hard-contact early on.
At his best, Bumgarner thrived on a unique combination of command, deceptiveness, and movement. The margin for error seemed microscopic and back-to-back years of injuries and hundreds of innings just might have put perfection out of reach.
Then, Bumgarner made an adjustment to be more deliberately random with his pitch locations. Ever since, the results have mimicked his prime.
In his seven starts since realigning his pitch pattern, which included a two-inning outing that he had to leave early after being struck by a line drive, here are his numbers:
- 6.14 IP/GS, 2.51 ERA, 9.8 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 0.4 HR/9, 6.9 H/9
In his prime from 2011-2016, Bumgarner produced:
- 6.5 IP/GS, 3.00 ERA , 9.1 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9, 7.6 H/9
It’s worth mentioning that his BABIP over his last seven starts is .290, which is actually higher than it was from 2011-2016.
He has been pitching like THAT Bumgarner. The same one that won World Series MVP in 2014 and was one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Once Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer were traded to teams that were not even supposed to be in the market for pitching, one had to think someone like the Astros, Yankees, or Twins would have been tempted to give the Giants an offer they couldn’t refuse.
The Astros acquired Zack Greinke, but the Twins and Yankees stood pat.
I think they’ll come to regret it.
Bumgarner is performing closer to his prime than he has since the accident. I expect his resurrection to continue in the second half, just in time for his first foray into free agency.