Tag: Madison Bumgarner

Madison Bumgarner Flashing October Form Now Is Scary Proposition for Rest of MLB

The San Francisco GiantsMadison Bumgarner is one of the best left-handers in baseball. He’s a three-time All-Star, a three-time champion and a National League Championship Series and World Series MVP.

Here’s a scary thought for opposing hitters: He might also be getting better.

After holding the powerful Boston Red Sox to one run on five hits through six innings in Wednesday’s 2-1 Giants victory at AT&T Park, Bumgarner ranks among the top five pitchers in baseball in ERA (1.88), strikeouts (99) and innings pitched (86).

He’s been especially dominant over his last nine starts, lasting at least six innings and giving up two earned runs or fewer in each. The Giants, not coincidentally, have gone 9-0 in those starts.

San Francisco’s offseason rotation additions, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, are paying significant dividends. But Bumgarner remains the backbone of the Giants’ starting five, the unmitigated stud in the stable.

We’ve seen this guy before, most notably in the 2014 postseason, when he set an array of records and essentially carried the Giants single-handedly to their third title in a five-year span.

In case you need a refresher, here’s a look back at his legendary relief appearance in Game 7 of the World Series against the Kansas City Royals:

Now, Bumgarner is doing his October dance in June. 

For all he’s accomplished, it’s worth remembering that Bumgarner is only 26 years old, an age when many talented pitchers are just rounding into form. And, to hear him tell it, he recently worked out a mechanical flaw that’s been nagging him since last season.

“That’s the best I’ve felt all year,” he said June 2 after fanning 11 in 7.2 innings in a 6-0 win over the Atlanta Braves, per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Today was the first time in a year and a half I felt like I had it pretty much where I wanted it.”

A lot of the talk about Bumgarner lately has centered on his stated desire to compete in the Home Run Derby at this year’s All-Star Game. 

That’s a fun distraction, and it would be Twitter-breaking entertainment. Heck, with the 11 home runs he’s cracked over the last three years and the enviable pop he displays in batting practice, he might even have a shot at winning the thing.

Everyone loves Bumgarner the snot-rocket-blowing, tree-chopping, horse-riding, homer-mashing character. Why wouldn’t they? He’s helping make baseball fun again.

That’s a sideshow, though, a diversion from the undeniable reality that Bumgarner has vaulted himself into the upper echelon of aces.

The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ Clayton Kershaw remains the best pitcher on the planet until further notice. Reigning NL Cy Young Award-winner Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs belongs squarely in the conversation. And bolt-throwing New York Mets sophomore Noah Syndergaard is making his move.

Toss in Bumgarner and you’ve got one heck of an awards race in the making.

Despite a run of five consecutive seasons of 200 innings or more and ERAs of 3.37 and below, Bumgarner has never finished higher than fourth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. This could be the year that changes.

Mostly, for fans of transcendent pitching, this is about as awesome as it gets.

The Giants still have questions at the back end of their rotation, with Jake Peavy vacillating between serviceable and dreadful and Matt Cain on the disabled list. Offensive cog Hunter Pence is also out after undergoing hamstring surgery, and the bullpen has shown signs of vulnerability.

But that Bumgarner/Cueto/Samardzija troika should have Bay Area fans thinking even-year thoughts.

As ESPN’s Mark Simon noted, Bumgarner‘s velocity has trended upward as the season has progressed. And, Simon added, he’s continued to lean on his sweeping, bat-missing slider:

The slider takes its toll on many a pitcher’s arm, but Bumgarner has managed to maintain his effectiveness and indestructibility regardless of how many he throws. Over the past three seasons (including postseason), Bumgarner has thrown a major league-high 2,750 sliders. Two right-handed pitchers — injured Tyson Ross (2,691) and Chris Archer (2,607) — rank second and third. The next most by a lefty is Kershaw‘s 2,120. 

Go ahead, talk about the home runs. Bumgarner might prefer that, as he clearly takes pride in his hitting.

Just remember to mention him among the best pitchers in the game. And ask yourself the following question: If he’s doing this in June, what can we expect come October?


All statistics current as of June 8 and courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

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Madison Bumgarner Comments on Wanting to Compete in MLB Home Run Derby

Madison Bumgarner wants to participate in the Home Run Derby.

Yes, the same Madison Bumgarner who pitches for the San Francisco Giants.

After taking part in batting practice Sunday in St. Louis, the three-time All-Star and 2014 World Series MVP told ESPN’s Buster Olney he wants to take part in the annual long-ball competition.

“I want to be in it,” he told Olney. “I’m going to be in it—don’t let me be in it.”

Bumgarner has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last few years, but he’s also become a rare power hitter from the No. 9 spot in the lineup. He’s hit 11 home runs over the last three years, including a career-high five in 2015.

While Bumgarner is confident he could shock the world and win the Home Run Derby, Giants manager Bruce Bochy has already put his foot down.

“No, to be serious, I couldn’t let him do it,” Bochy said, per ESPN.com. “We couldn’t let him do it. And Bum, he’s convinced he could win it. I think he would wear himself down in the first round, he’d try to hit it so hard.”

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson checked in with Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford to see if Bumgarner would actually do it:

According to ESPN.com, Bumgarner hit at least 12 pitches over the fence in batting practice, with two reaching the third deck at Busch Stadium and one reaching the fourth deck. Bumgarner has power, but the thought of a pitcher taking part in the Derby is a stretch.

Having a pitcher compete could be a possibility down the road, but it likely won’t happen this year.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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Madison Bumgarner Blasts a Solo Home Run Off Clayton Kershaw

Make it two for Madison Bumgarner, the only pitcher to ever hit a home run off Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

The San Francisco Giants ace drove the solo shot over the left field wall at AT&T Park on Saturday—his second career homer off Kershaw—lifting the Giants to a 1-0 lead in the second inning.

San Francisco won the first two games of the series, which will end with the fourth on Sunday.

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Will Kershaw, Greinke or Bumgarner Be NL West’s Top Ace in 2016 Division War?

It’s high noon in the NL West. Into a deserted clearing step Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Madison Bumgarner. A breeze rolls tumbleweeds across the ground.

What happens next?

Clearly there’s going to be a damn good fight for the not-so-official title of the division’s best ace. Kershaw, Greinke and Bumgarner have been three of the National League’s top pitchers over the past three seasons, and are certainly head-and-shoulders above all other NL West pitchers.

As for which of them will be the last ace standing, that part is complicated. Let’s break it down.


The Case for and Against Madison Bumgarner

On either side of his historically awesome postseason in 2014, Bumgarner has been remarkably consistent. Since 2013, the San Francisco Giants ace is the only pitcher to top 200 innings with an ERA under 3.00 each year.

What’s more, Bumgarner is still just 26 and seemingly only getting better. As I highlighted last week, he’s gained complete control over his unusual delivery and has further baffled hitters with an approach that calls for fastballs up and off-speed pitches down. As a result, he’s improved as a strikeout artist and as a walk artist.

So, color us unsurprised that the projections expect more of the same from Bumgarner in 2016. At FanGraphs, for example, Steamer and ZiPS both see another season of 200-plus innings with an ERA under 3.00 in his future.

The thing is, though, the left-hander hasn’t started 2016 off on the right foot.

Bumgarner was slowed by injuries in spring training, and he posted an 11.12 ERA in four starts. The hard times continued in his 2016 debut at the Milwaukee Brewers, as he surrendered three earned runs on five hits (including two home runs) and five walks in five innings.

Since Bumgarner was supposedly battling the flu, his poor performance may prove to be a one-and-done affair. In particular, better health could help his fastball velocity, which was roughly two miles per hour below its 2015 norm in his debut.

Unless said velocity loss is something that’s about to be unveiled as permanent, that is. According to this Brooks Baseball chart of Bumgarner‘s velocity over the past year, it’s a distinct possibility:

Ever since it peaked last June, his velocity has been on a downward slope. And though he’s still plenty young, research by Bill Petti at FanGraphs suggests Bumgarner is right around the age when he would start losing velocity.

Because Bumgarner still has a delivery that makes it incredibly tough for hitters to track the ball as well as an approach to pitching that further ups the difficulty level, he should still be able to pitch like an ace even if this velocity loss is for real. But since smaller velocity readings tend to mean a smaller margin for error, it’s fair to wonder if his ceiling for 2016 only goes so high.


The Case for and Against Zack Greinke

In case anyone missed it, Greinke is no longer a Los Angeles Dodger. They were open to bringing him back this winter, but instead he followed the scent of a $206.5 million contract to Arizona.

The Diamondbacks aren’t wrong to view Greinke as the ace their rotation sorely lacked in 2015. He’s posted a 2.30 ERA across 602.2 innings over the last three years, culminating in an MLB-best 1.66 ERA in 222.2 innings last season.

Sure, the 32-year-old Greinke isn’t young anymore. In a related story, the electric stuff he had in his Kansas City Royals days is long gone. But without his best stuff, he’s basically become Greg Maddux. Through pinpoint command and expert sequencing, Greinke is in control of hitters at all times.

Or most times, anyway. Greinke wasn’t in a lot of control in his 2016 debut against the Colorado Rockies. He lasted only four innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits, three of which exited the park.

The bright side, such as it is, is that Greinke has the same excuse as Bumgarner for his poor debut. As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports found out from his sources, Greinke was also battling the flu:

Another bright side is that Greinke‘s stuff didn’t suffer as much as Bumgarner‘s did. His fastball velocity was only down 0.8 miles per hour from where it was in 2015. To boot, his velocity in his debut was actually better than where he was last April.

With this being the case, Greinke is probably right in thinking that subpar command is to blame for his poor first impression.

“I know I probably threw too many pitches away early in the game and didn’t throw in enough,” he told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. “Sometimes that’ll let the other team feel more comfortable in the box.”

Another thing that didn’t help is that Greinke didn’t get many called strikes outside the strike zone. That’s something he excelled at in 2015, as Baseball Savant reports that 10.9 percent of his balls were called strikes. Only four of his 53 balls, or 7.5 percent, got that treatment in his debut.

But just as Bumgarner‘s lesser velocity may be a trend in the making, Greinke struggling to get favorable calls could be in the same boat. As noted by Brad Johnson at FanGraphs, Greinke is making the switch from an elite strike-framer in Yasmani Grandal to a mediocre strike-framer in Welington Castillo.

The odds of Greinke posting another 1.66 ERA are slim no matter what. But if Castillo’s catching doesn’t allow him to pitch like he’s used to, Steamer and ZiPS may be right about his ERA being likely to fall in the 2.75-3.00 range.


The Case for and Against Clayton Kershaw

HOT TAKE INCOMING: Kershaw is really good. 

As in, really good. The Dodgers ace led the majors in ERA each year between 2011 and 2014. And even in breaking the streak in 2015, he still posted a 2.13 ERA, struck out 301 batters and was rated as baseball’s top pitcher by several advanced metrics.

And where Bumgarner and Greinke began 2016 with a thud, Kershaw did this to the San Diego Padres:

Seven shutout innings? Only one walk and one hit allowed? A sharp 93-95 fastball? A disappearing high-80s slider? A mind-bending curveball? 

Yup, that all sounds like Kershaw.

And there’s more! Though it’s not pictured above, Mike Axisa of CBS Sports captured a look at a changeup that Kershaw used to make Alexei Ramirez look silly:

That’s something you don’t see often, as Kershaw‘s changeup has accounted for less than 3 percent of the 28-year-old’s career pitches. And for the most part, his changeups haven’t been good.

That one sure was, though. And that may not be an accident. Though Kershaw has struggled to master the pitch, he hasn’t given up on learning the changeup. And this spring, he sought advice from a guy who had a great changeup in his day.

“He came up to me and asked how I threw my changeup,” former Dodgers closer and Cy Young winner Eric Gagne told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. “He’s never satisfied with whatever his numbers are. He just wants to get better. That’s the difference between a good pitcher and one-of-a-kind.”

If the changeup that Kershaw broke out in his 2016 debut is the result of his one-on-one with Gagne, hitters may be screwed. He’s only needed a fastball, slider and curveball to become the best pitcher of modern times. If he now has a changeup too, he might literally morph into Superman.

As for the catch…well, that’s actually a good question.

Kershaw is still in his prime years, and it’s hard to spot red flags. His velocity is fine. He’s gotten good at pounding the strike zone. Between that and his stuff, it makes sense that he excels at walksstrikeouts and contact management.

The only concern may be whether Kershaw will be hurt by the Dodgers defense. With an offense-first shortstop in Corey Seager and older defenders at first, second and third, Kershaw‘s tendency toward ground balls might not be an automatic recipe for success.

But since that’s basically it, it’s hard to disagree with Steamer and ZiPS projecting Kershaw for well over 200 innings and an ERA in the low 2.00s. That’s just what he does.


The Grand Conclusion

Let’s return to our homage to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. If it’s a shootout that Kershaw, Greinke and Bumgarner are getting into this season, who’s the man to beat?

Here’s how I’d rank ’em:

  1. Kershaw
  2. Greinke
  3. Bumgarner

Shocking for a guy who just ranked them the exact same way a week ago, I know. The only difference this time is that I’ll admit that Bumgarner vs. Greinke is probably a push. If Greinke regresses from last year’s 1.66 ERA as much as he should, his production will end up looking a lot like Bumgarner‘s.

But regardless, it’s difficult to imagine either having a better year than Kershaw. He’s been dominating more than any other pitcher for a half-decade now. And going into this season, you practically need a microscope to find nits to pick with his potential.

Put another way, the best pitcher in baseball can probably handle being the best pitcher in the NL West.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Giants’ Madison Bumgarner-Buster Posey Duo Best MLB Battery in Decades

What has four legs, six rings and the undying affection of the City by the Bay?

That’d be the San Francisco GiantsMadison Bumgarner and Buster Posey, hands down the best battery in baseball and, in fact, the best pitcher/catcher pairing the sport has seen in decades.

Oh, sure, this week we learned that Bumgarner will miss one or two Cactus League starts with injuries to his foot and ribcage that he termed “minor,” per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. The big left-hander, Schulman added, insists he’ll make his scheduled Opening Day start.

Based on his track record of grit under pressure, we’re inclined to believe him. And we’ll assume that when he does, Posey will be in the squat.

If so, it’ll be another in a long list of watershed moments for San Francisco’s dynamic duo.

Despite their relative youthBumgarner is 26 and Posey turns 29 on March 27—the Giants’ ace and MVP backstop have shared a trio of championship runs. In 2014, Posey caught Bumgarner‘s transcendent Game 7 relief appearance against the Kansas City Royals, as well as all 52.2 frames of the southpaw’s historic postseason.

When Posey catches Bumgarner, whether in a Fall Classic elimination game or the Cactus League, one of the first things you notice is how infrequently Bumgarner shakes him off.

They’re simpatico, like all successful batteries must be. It’s a rhythm they began developing in the minor leagues, after the Giants drafted Bumgarner out of North Carolina’s South Caldwell High School in 2007 and Posey from Florida State the following year.

“They both kind of came up together at almost the same time,” Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti said, per Schulman. “When they did, I noticed there was a rapport between the two of them right off the bat.”

They dress at adjoining lockers in Scottsdale, Schulman noted, and joke and tease like brothers.

They even manage to push each other at the plate. On July 13, 2014, they became the first pitcher and catcher in MLB history to each hit a grand slam in the same game, an 8-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. And last year, both took home Silver Slugger Awards for the second straight season.

Mostly, though, their success comes with 60 feet, 6 inches of separation between them. Posey is good no matter who he’s catching; he was the fourth-best pitch-framer in the game last season, per StatCorner, and seems destined to eventually win a Gold Glove. But his bond with Bumgarner specifically is undeniable.

So are the results. Bumgarner has eclipsed 200 innings in five consecutive seasons and made three All-Star teams in that stretch. And Posey, of course, has grabbed a batting title and an NL MVP Award during the same period, in addition to toiling capably under the tools of ignorance.

We said up there that they’re baseball’s best battery, and that’s a pretty uncontroversial statement. Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals have had plenty of superlative moments together, but both are attempting injury comebacks and appear to be on the downside of their careers.

Other than that, what’s the competition? The Toronto Blue Jays‘ Russell Martin and Marcus Stroman? The Kansas City Royals’ Salvador Perez and Edinson Volquez? No offense to those perfectly respectable twosomes, but they’re not even in the same stratosphere.

No, to find adequate comparables for Posey and Bumgarner, we have to reach further back into baseball history.

In the early 2000s, Jorge Posada was a perennial All-Star behind the dish for the New York Yankees. And he caught his share of excellent pitchers, including Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina and Roger Clemens. In the ’90s, Javy Lopez framed pitches for Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine during the Atlanta Braves‘ run of dominance, but he was nowhere near the talent Posey is.

So how far back do we go? Johnny Bench and Tom Seaver? Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford?

Yes, we’re dialing deep into the 20th century and dealing in legends and Hall of Famers. But that’s the company Posey and Bumgarner are moving into, and they’re each locked into long-term deals with the GiantsBumgarner through 2019 and Posey through 2022—meaning they’ll have ample opportunity to pad their mutual resume.

OK, here’s the part where we’re legally obligated to mention that it’s an even year. Which, since 2010, has meant orange and black confetti and a parade down Market Street. And, right on cue, the Giants spent $220 million to bolster their rotation with free agents Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija.

Bumgarner, however, remains the unquestioned ace. That’s why news of him missing a spring start or two is a big deal, even if the reason for it isn’t necessarily.

Along with Posey and skipper Bruce Bochy, he’s the thread that ties the Giants’ title trilogy together. If they’re going to get another one, the stud left-hander and his cherub-faced catcher will surely be in the middle of the magic yet again.

It almost feels like destiny, though as Schulman opined, “To say they were destined for greatness together is prosaic but inaccurate. Destiny in sports is earned.”

True enough. And as their ring-covered fingers attest, Bumgarner and Posey have earned it several times over.

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Madison Bumgarner Injury: Updates on Giants Star’s Foot, Ribs and Recovery

San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner is set to miss one or two starts with minor injuries, according to Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area.

Continue for updates.

Bumgarner Dealing with Foot, Rib Injuries

Sunday, March 13

According to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, Bumgarner has neuroma in his left foot and pain in his right rib cage, though an “MRI showed no oblique injury.”

Bumgarner said he’ll be ready for Opening Day, however, per Pavlovic.

“I have two things that aren’t a big deal,” he said, per Schulman. “There’s no sense making them a big deal. So we’re going to skip a start, one or two just to be safe.”

Bumgarner was excellent for the Giants once again last season, finishing 18-9 with a 2.93 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 234 strikeouts in 218.1 innings. His WHIP, strikeouts and innings tallies were all career bests.

He was a bright spot for the team, which failed to reach the playoffs after winning the World Series in 2014.

Bumgarner pitched like a legend in the postseason that year, finishing 4-1 in six starts and recording a save in a relief appearance in Game 7 of the World Series, in which he threw five shutout innings on two days’ rest.

He finished the playoffs with a 1.03 ERA, 0.65 WHIP and 45 strikeouts in 52.2 innings—perhaps the most impressive run by a pitcher in postseason history.

With a healthy Bumgarner leading their rotation, the Giants are a threat to not only reach the playoffs but also make a run at another World Series title. Without him, however, the road to October will be much more difficult to traverse.

San Francisco has a talented rotation behind Bumgarner, with offseason additions Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija ahead of Jake Peavy, Chris Heston and Matt Cain. Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Hunter Strickland and Javier Lopez headline a talented bullpen.

But Bumgarner is the main attraction, which means any injury he suffers is cause for at least some concern in the Bay Area.


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Madison Bumgarner-Johnny Cueto Duo Can Be Best of Giants’ Title Era

It’s an even year, San Francisco Giants fans. And that means—well, here’s the thing. You want honesty?

It means nothing.

There is no mystical energy that binds the galaxy together and decrees the Giants must hoist a Commissioner’s Trophy in 2016. Yes, they won titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. That’s a fascinating numerical anomaly, but it’s not a harbinger of things to come.

On the other hand, here’s something that could help San Francisco add to its gaudy championship heap: the dynamic duo of Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto.

The Giants built each of their recent World Series runs around pitching. In 2010, it was a young, homegrown rotation headlined by Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. In 2012, it was Bumgarner and Cain, with a surprise assist from redeemed albatross Barry Zito.

And in 2014, it was basically Bumgarner all by himself, including one of the most transcendent postseason relief appearances in baseball history in Game 7 of the Fall Classic:

Last year, the Giants led the National League in batting average and finished among the top five in hits, runs and OPS. Yet their starting pitchers posted a 3.95 ERA and were a mixture of inconsistent and mediocre after Bumgarner. Unsurprisingly, they missed the playoffs.

Also unsurprisingly, the Giants front office made pitching a priority this winter. First, it inked Jeff Samardzija to a five-year, $90 million deal. Then, it nabbed Cueto for six years and $130 million.

Samardzija, an All-Star in 2014 who led both leagues in earned runs and hits allowed last year with the Chicago White Sox, is an intriguing reclamation project who should benefit from San Francisco’s strong defense and the spacious confines of AT&T Park.

But the real prize is Cueto, a legitimate ace-level arm who joins Bumgarner to form one of MLB‘s best lefty-righty tandems, especially now that Zack Greinke has left Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers for a mercenary’s payday in Arizona.

So where do Cueto/Bumgarner rank in the pantheon of Giants’ title-run twosomes? We won’t know the answer until the season plays out, obviously, and we see whether San Francisco actually makes a title run.

But let’s say S.F. does charge back into the October picture. If Bumgarner and Cueto replicated their 2015 regular-season numbers, here’s how they’d stack up against Lincecum/Cain from 2010 and Cain/Bumgarner from 2012:

Bumgarner and Cueto would have the highest combined WAR, if that stat does anything for you, and the highest strikeout total. It’s tough to discount Lincecum at the height of his powers coupled with vintage workhorse Cain. But Johnny and MadBum are squarely in the mix.

Bumgarner, quite simply, just keeps getting better. He’s eclipsed 200 frames in each of the last five seasons, has kept his ERA under 3.00 for three consecutive campaigns and has made three straight All-Star teams.

And he’s locked into a ridiculously affordable contract with the Giants through 2019, assuming they pick up a pair of $12 million team options (a safe assumption).

Cueto‘s 2015 numbers, meanwhile, were skewed by a late-season slide that saw him post a 4.76 ERA after a trade-deadline swap from the Cincinnati Reds to the Kansas City Royals.

Many theories were floated to explain his K.C. malaise, including an elbow strain that cost him a couple of starts in May with the Reds. That may have limited the pool of offseason bidders, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post noted:

But the Giants conducted an MRI and were apparently satisfied. “His elbow looks great,” San Francisco general manager Bobby Evans said, per CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic. “It really looked good.”

Speaking of which, Cueto looked more than good in his final start of 2015, a complete-game masterpiece in Game 2 of the World Series against the New York Mets.

That gem didn’t erase all doubt about Cueto‘s struggles with the Royals, but it was about as emphatic a punctuation mark as anyone could hope for.

Still, he languished unsigned while David Price and Greinke inked contracts north of $200 million. And he “settled” for his deal with the Giants, which allows him to opt out after two years if he thinks he can get more on the open market.

For now, he can settle into a pitchers’ yard with an all-world catcher in Buster Posey and a widely respected pitching coach in Dave Righetti.

“It’s already a great rotation,” Cueto said of the group that will include himself, Bumgarner, Samardzija, veteran Jake Peavy and a recovering Cain, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). “I will just come here to complement the rest of the guys.”

The Giants are hoping he can do more than complement. They want him to turn the clock back, just a couple ticks, to 2014, when he led the Senior Circuit in strikeouts and innings pitched with his vast repertoire and signature herky-jerky delivery.

Putting that guy next to a still just 26-year-old Bumgarner is a scary thought for opposing hitters. Heck, Cueto won’t be 30 until February, meaning time as well as stuff is on this duo’s side.

They may not have that much in common, the dreadlocked right-hander from the Dominican Republic and the tree-chopping southpaw from North Carolina. And there are legitimate questions about durability on Cueto‘s part.

But they’ve got the Giants. They’ve got immense combined ability and potential. And they’ve got an even year ahead.

Probably that last bit means nothing. Then again, it could mean everything.


All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Giants P Madison Bumgarner and Umpire Have Epic 17-Second Staredown During Game

After walking a batter in the bottom of the sixth inning against the San Diego Padres on Thursday night, San Francisco Giants stud Madison Bumgarner had an epic staredown with umpire Joe West.

If you’re unfamiliar with West’s work, he’s the kind of umpire who isn’t afraid of a little airtime. He is to baseball what Joey Crawford is to the NBA.

Bumgarner clearly wasn’t amused after the call, so West removed his mask, likely hoping the pitcher would give him a reason toss him.

Instead, he got an ice-cold gaze that apparently lasted over 17 seconds, per SportsCenter (h/t CSNBayArea.com’s Alex Pavlovic):

[Twitter, h/t Deadspin]

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Madison Bumgarner Performs Pirouette-Like Move to Make Play at 1st Base

Madison Bumgarner channeled his inner dancer in the third inning of Thursday’s 9-1 win over the Chicago Cubs, performing a pirouette-like move to make a play at first base.

San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt fielded Kyle Schwarber’s ground ball, tossing it to Bumgarner, who reached across his shoulders to make the catch while spinning to land with his foot on the bag.

The lefty limited the Cubs to two hits and one run in six innings at AT&T Park.

[Major League Baseball]

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Bumgarner Strikes out 14, Hits Home Run in Complete-Game Shutout

San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner had an incredible Sunday against the Washington Nationals.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau (h/t ESPN Stats & Information), he joined Hall of Famer Early Wynn (1959) as one of just two players in the modern era to hit a home run, record a complete-game shutout and strike out 14 batters in the same game.

In addition to his 14 strikeouts, the lefty allowed just three hits and a lone walk, needing 112 pitches to make it through the full nine innings in a 5-0 Giants victory.

San Francisco’s batters provided a 3-0 lead by the end of the fourth inning, but it was Bumgarner who knocked in the insurance runsfirst with an RBI double in the fifth inning, then with a solo home run in the seventh.

Despite his 20 strikeouts in 53 at-bats, the 26-year-old lefty owns a solid .245/.273/.491 batting line for the season, thanks mostly to his four home runs.

He also hit four homers last year, with his eight since the beginning of 2014 putting him five ahead of any other pitcher, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Bumgarner‘s all-or-nothing approach at the plate may be highly unusual for his position, but its effectiveness can no longer be questioned.

More importantly for the Giants, he owns a 14-6 record, 2.98 ERA and 1.03 WHIP for the season, with a 174-27 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 163.1 innings.

Those numbers would make him a top contender for a Cy Young Award in many seasons, but he may have trouble drawing consideration as part of an unusually loaded National League field.

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