He knew he would have paid for it eventually, so Madison Bumgarner smartly decided to get out before things got bad.
That’s not something you can say a whole lot about the San Francisco Giants ace (by default) in general this season as he currently owns a dominating 3.02/0.95 ERA/WHIP with a .191 BAA. In short, he’s simply been one of the best pitchers in the game this season, and more often than not, things have gone right for the lefty.
Still, that wasn’t the case in May, when he gave up four runs or more in three of his five starts, finishing the stretch with a 5.17/1.31 ERA/WHIP that screamed course correction.
The culprit? Home runs. It seems so simple, but considering that Bumgarner’s lone win in his 1-3 May came in the only start that month in this he didn’t give up a long ball, I think it’s fair to say that if there is a vice that might be his Achilles’ heel, that would be it.
Which, as it turned out, made his recent string of starts a bit of a tightrope act.
Prior to his latest turn, Bumgarner had actually gone four straight games in which he has allowed at least one home run. That he has been 3-1 over that span is lucky, but that all four have been quality starts was more or less a minor miracle from the baseball gods … and one that he wasn’t going to be able to sustain.
There were no such worries on Thursday against the San Diego Padres though, as the spacious confines of Petco Park gave the 23-year old just what he needed to break that potentially destructive cycle. He wound up with his 10th victory of the season after a dominating seven-inning, two-run performance, but it was the fact that the home runs finally stopped that the team wanted to see.
And with Bumgarner’s control seemingly focused to a pinpoint (one walk over last two starts), the lack of long balls will only continue to elevate his status with the Giants to the next level.