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Madison Bumgarner: empirically better than assorted Dodgers players

Harry How

You waited all offseason, and you got one of those games yesterday. Which kind of game? I can't remember, but Madison Bumgarner wasn't in it, so we'll move on. But it wasn't worth a six-month wait.

But you know what's longer than a six-month wait? The wait between a loss on Opening Day and the start of Opening Night 27 hours later. Boy, that wait is interminable. Hopefully you have a job or something to keep you occupied, but I've looked at the demographics for this site. Pretty sure you sat around all day waiting for this game. It was the longest day of your life this week.

So you wait all offseason, get a brutal Opening Day loss, spend all day waiting for the next game to start, and then you get one o' them double-play games. Runner, runner, double play. Runner, runner, double play. And it's not like they were strike-'em-out/throw-'em-out double plays, or balls pounded in the dirt right back to the pitcher; they were hard-hit balls, for the most part. Runner, runner, double play.

If that held up, you would have fired a shoe through the TV. It's April 2. Firing a shoe through the TV because of a horrible loss on April 2 is like a starting pitcher throwing an 130-pitch game on April 2. You have to pace yourself. It's not good for you.

Let's add that to the list, then. Madison Bumgarner: superlative command, exquisite control, powerful fastball, deceptive slutter, and a homeopathic approach to a healthy heart. It didn't matter that the Giants kept hitting into double plays. It didn't matter that the Giants kept letting Hyun-Jin Ryu off the hook in what should have been a much shakier debut. It didn't matter that there was a baseball game yesterday of some note. Madison Bumgarner put on a jetpack and told us to come with him if we want to live.

Actually, he's probably more of a lasso guy than a jetpack guy. But I'm not wasting all of my slash-fic on one post. Point is, Bumgarner was better than anything that's happened in a Giants game since Miguel Cabrera couldn't pull the trigger. You waited a long time? There you go. That's why. You wanted to see someone that good do good things. You missed it.

And I'll admit to being too much of a velocity snoop, perseverating on 88s and 89s, even though that's terribly reductive. It's not like a scout can call in sick, crib the velocity readings from a buddy, and be just as effective. I have a built-in excuse, seeing as I follow a team that employs both Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito, but it's probably not a good idea to be such a fetishist about radar guns.

But when Bumgarner started pumping 91s, 92s, and 93s, danged if it didn't feel outstanding. With him, it's not like the low velocity is indicative of wear and tear, or an arm running out of batteries. It's indicative of wonky mechanics, and that's when he tends to get hit. Instead, he was transcendent. The last earned run he's given up was a homer to Carlos Beltran in Game 1. We've come a long way. He's come a long way.

He's also 23, you know.

That's it, extend him. The next thing you know, 2019's here, and another team will be pawing at Bumgarner. Extend him. You can't be too careful. Because what was that we just watched? One of the best starts we'll see from anyone all year, and there are still 160 games left. Goodness.


Bumgarner was so good, and his pitch count was low enough, that I'm not even going to complain about the decision to let him hit for himself in the eighth. After the bullpen jackassery yesterday, I would have rather lost the game with Bumgarner on the mound than another meltdown.


Everyone's going to get on Justin Sellers for muffing the throw home, but it's kind of sad because the decision to throw home in the first place was just as stupid. No one's paying attention to it. Won't somebody give that stupid an audience?

Actually, I'm not going to get on Sellers for that play. Turned out to be pretty cool.


Pablo Sandoval made two outstanding defensive plays tonight. Let's check in with the Fat Meter and see how fat he is!

Oh, good, He's fine. Some players are just shaped like that, everybody. Move on.


I wasn't especially impressed with Hyun-Jin Ryu, but it's not like that means anything. Take Wade Miley. The first time I saw Miley, I wasn't like, duuuuude, texting all my friends, "Oh, man, this Miley cat, you gotta check him out." Miley was, like, Generic Left-Hander B-39. He could have been Tommy Milone or Odalis Perez or Doug Davis or Jo-Jo Reyes. He certainly wasn't anything that stood out the first time I saw him.

Over time, though, you started to appreciate him more as a pitcher. By the end of the season, it was easy to peg Miley as a good pitcher. A really good, mid-rotation pitcher that any team would love to have.

Ryu could be like that. He was hit hard at times, and I don't think the Giants were ever really fooled by him. But it takes a while to get a handle on a lefty who runs 88-91. That could be good, could be bad, could be dominant. It all depends on the command, control, and off-speed stuff.

That written, I'm hoping for Jo-Jo Reyes. C'mon, Jo-Jo. Papa needs a new pair of Jo-Jo Ryus. Here's hoping ...