There’s little doubt that Madison Bumgarner is one of the very best pitchers in MLB when he’s on his game.
Now, if he could just be on more often …
See, it seems that the ‘one on, one off’ bug that’s been plaguing San Francisco Giants ace Matt Cain has also bitten their young lefty — at least over the month of May. Considering that Bumgarner was simply brilliant through the first month of the season (1.55/0.84 ERA/WHIP, .176 BAA over 40.2 IP), this can’t be called anything other than a disappointing development.
Yes, the 23-year-old (!) still has outstanding stuff, but for every step forward since the calendar month turned, he’s taken a step back.
He had the chance to break that trend Monday. Coming off a fantastic seven-inning, one-run, four-hit performance over the Washington Nationals, Bumgarner was tasked with keeping the Oakland Athletics at bay in an interleague rivalry matchup … and failed to do so.
Although he did pitch into the seventh inning, the southpaw’s wildness ultimately became his undoing, as two of the four earned runs charged to him got on due to walks. In total, Bumgarner allowed five free passes (none of them intentional), and hit a batter to boot.
Sure, the four hits allowed to six strikeouts show that he’s still got the stuff, but those hits count just a bit more when runners are getting on base without having to swing the bat.
It’s been a troubling trend for the Giants youngster, really. After showing impeccable control in April as demonstrated by a 1.99 B/9 (a number mostly marred by one five-walk outing), he’s allowed at least a pair of walks in all of his starts in May, good for a 3.73 BB/9.
Combined with the fact that he’s allowed a home run in all but one of his starts this month (1.15 HR/9 vs. 0.66 in April), and you can see why he’ll drag an unsightly 5.17/1.31 ERA/WHIP into June.
Just a bump on the road? Probably. But with the Giants having lost six out of their last 10, an inconsistent Bumgarner/Cain duo atop the rotation is the last thing they need to worry about in what has been a competitive race for the NL West thus far this season.