2014 MLB All-Star Game: 5 Reasons Why Madison Bumgarner Should Start for NL

MLB All-Star Game: 5 Reasons Why Madison Bumgarner Should Start for NL

Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco Giants' left-hander Madison Bumgarner is scheduled to make his final start of the first half on Sunday, which means he'll be replaced on the NL All-Star team, possibly by teammate Tim Hudson. Bumgarner has been solid all season for the Giants, posting a 9-6 record with a 3.09 ERA in 113.2 innings pitched while averaging a career-best 9.5 K/9. Although MadBum won't pitch in the 85th ASG, a case can be made for why he should start.

5. Strategic Element

Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

5. Strategic Element

Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It's obviously a tremendous honor to get the nod to start an All-Star Game, but it's also important to realize the ramifications of home-field advantage in the World Series. NL team manager Mike Matheny understands the importance of winning this game after losing Game 6 of the '13 World Series in Boston. If Bum were available to pitch, it would be logical to start him over Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright to gain an edge in the middle innings.

4. Bumgarner Can Hit

Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

4. Bumgarner Can Hit

Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

There might not be a more powerful hitting pitcher than MadBum. While pitchers are practically guaranteed not to see at bats in the MLB All-Star Game, Bumgarner's batting practice prowess makes him a more "complete" player than some of his positional counterparts. In a hypothetical world where hitting mattered for pitchers in the ASG, Bum would be the favorite. The lefty has recorded two home runs, including a grand slam, with eight RBIs in 2014.

3. Early Game Impact

Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

3. Early Game Impact

Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The first team to score in any given All-Star Game typically carries enormous momentum into the middle innings. Bumgarner would be Matheny's best option to keep the AL from gaining an early edge, considering Kershaw and Wainwright's respective vulnerabilities in the early going. Kershaw has a knack for struggling in the first two innings, posting a 4.97 second-inning ERA in 2014. Wainwright has been good (2.12), but Bum has been better (1.00).

2. Road Dominance

Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

2. Road Dominance

Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Bumgarner has been one of the toughest pitchers to hit away from home in 2014, registering a 6-1 record with a 1.32 ERA in hostile territory. His confounding struggles at AT&T Park would be an obvious non-factor at Target Field in Minneapolis where he's never pitched. Although Kershaw flaunts better inter-league numbers, Bumgarner has been better on the road, allowing an equal number of earned runs (9) in 19 more innings pitched.

1. Big Game Experience

Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

1. Big Game Experience

Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants are World Series contenders yet again in 2014, which means home-field advantage means more to them than most. While the same can be said for Dodgers pitchers Kershaw and Zack Greinke, Bumgarner has been dominant in big game situations. The 24-year-old lefty owns a 2-0 record with a 0.00 ERA in 15.0 innings of work in the Fall Classic whereas Kershaw has been knocked around in three NLCS starts (14 runs in 16.2 innings).

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