The San Francisco Giants have lost their huge NL West Division lead after recent struggles allowed the Los Angeles Dodgers to climb right back into contention. The Giants have had problems with injuries on offense, but it will be pitching that will determine just how well the team will fare in the second half of the MLB season.
Madison Bumgarner will be the pivotal piece in this run, and he will need to do much better than he did against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on Thursday. Bumgarner only went five innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits and three walks. He did chalk up six strikeouts, but did little else. The Cardinals beat the Giants 7-2 behind a solid pitching performance by Carlos Martinez, who allowed one run on five hits and a walk while striking out six.
Bumgarner has been rocked at home recently, and there is very little reasoning behind it. His outing on Thursday was his third straight poor performance at home. While the staff is still a good one, it will need to be great if the Giants want to hang around with the suddenly extremely hot Dodgers.
Bumgarner was considered the ace coming into the season, but has not lived up to it with his inconsistency. Obviously, he needs to figure out what is off at home and what is working on the road.
The Giants may have Tim Lincecum turning things around, Matt Cain coming off a solid start, and the always-consistent Tim Hudson, but it will be Bumgarner’s arm that will lead the club either to the World Series or to no playoff appearance at all.