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Post-game thread: Bumgarner gets to .500 after all

I, for one, am choosing to pretend that the Giants were chasing the Rockies this whole time. They went into Coors Field and took four games in a row -- something worthy of a graphic novel on its own. But then they had to finish the job, heading home and winning the first two games against the Rockies. This sets up tomorrow.

Oh, man. Tomorrow. If the Giants win tomorrow, they'll ... either win the division, or finish 15 games ahead of the Rockies. Maybe both! Maybe neither! But it sure was fun watching them play all of these important games against the Rockies, which is what they were. Important games. Lalalalalalala.

The Giants have gone 25-10 against the Rockies and Padres so far this year. Amazing. Write that on a slip of paper, scrawl "SECOND PLACE" under it, and mail it back to April to mess with a few minds.

But keeping with the Odelsong from last night, it's time to take a tour of thanks around the Giants' rotation. Quick! Name all of the 21-year-old or younger pitchers who qualified for the ERA title with a strikeout-to-walk ratio over 4.00!

Rk Player Year SO/BB Age Tm G W L IP H ER BB SO ERA ERA+ HR
1 Bret Saberhagen 1985 4.16 21 KCR 32 20 6 235.1 211 75 38 158 2.87 145 19
2 Don Sutton 1966 4.02 21 LAD 37 12 12 225.2 192 75 52 209 2.99 110 19
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/27/2011.

Say, that's a nice list. One guy's in the Hall of Fame, and the other guy won two Cy Young awards. There's nothing better than a pitcher with strikeout stuff and impeccable control, but it's usually something that pitchers build to. Even the best usually come up and scuffle for a bit, trying to build up that muscle memory and harness their stuff.

With nine strikeouts and no walks tonight, Madison Bumgarner finished the season with a 4.15 K/BB ratio. The number is probably only good for impressing dorks -- guilty! -- but the company he's keeping has to impress everyone. Oh, the game has gone through all sorts of changes, and a good K/BB wasn't always an indication of a successful pitcher, but it's still amazing to think of Madison Bumgarner as some preternatural control maven without peer. Well, other than Saberhagen, but I'll bet Joe West jobbed Bumgarner out of at least three strikeouts this year, so we'll call those two seasons a tie.

Back in April, I was assigned a "What's wrong with Bumgarner?" article at Baseball Nation. My conclusion: nothing that better luck couldn't fix. Still, That first month was painful. And if just a little doubt didn't creep into Bumgarner's mind, it sure did into mine. Young pitchers are bizarre contraptions. It doesn't take much for springs and labrums and walks to fly all over the place.

Turns out Bumgarner was fine. He was better than fine, he was fantastic. He was amazing. And his season was historic. It's still okay to whine a little about missing the playoffs (though the Giants are only three games back from the Braves now!), but when you think about some of the pitching we got to watch this year, you realize there was actually more good than bad.