Wednesday, September 09, 2009
The Mad Bum, A Phantom Injury, and a Bad Loss
Why start Madison Bumgarner in his place, then, opening the team up to all kinds of criticism about service time and whatnot? Probably because the Giants felt that Joe Martinez or any other AAA filler-type wouldn't be able to stop even the Padres' meager attack, and Bumgarner was ready after tearing through the minor leagues. He ended up pitching well enough, before the bullpen had an uncharacteristic blowup to send the Giants to a rough loss that put them three games back of the Wild Card.
Bumgarner pitched pretty well and even got one good swing off, taking a Kevin Correia fastball to the warning track, but all the attention seemed to be on his lowered velocity. The scouting reports had Bumgarner throwing in the range of 93-95, but last night he showed up throwing 88-90, as ghosts of Jesse Fopperts past began swirling around. Worrisome? Well, yes. Bumgarner's strikeout rate in the minors also was less than inspiring. Maybe he was pacing himself, but Giants fans don't really want to stomach another pitching prospect with overhyped velocity. That was almost certainly his only start of the season, so we'll have to wait a while to see if the decreased velocity was the real deal or just a nerve-induced fluke.
The best is probably the 'short series' expectation of making the playoffs. I mean, I get how good pitching beats good hitting, but no matter how good the Giants staff is, they'll likely draw the Cards in the NLDS... When a hitter is considered a success at 30%, and the Cards have all those really good or really hot hitters? Yeah...
The team is 27-25 since the All-Star break. That might be enough to eke out a playoff spot in a week division, but it won't help them if they can't score runs when it matters most. Especially on the road against teams that have their own good pitching.
As for the "short series" thing, I've never really bought the "pitching wins in the playoffs" argument. I'd rather go into the playoffs with Lincecum, Cain, etc. than not, obviously, but you've also got to score runs. Maybe you have to do the little things, but the Giants don't even do that well.