This seems like one of those knife-fight arguments that we'll have for the next few decades if the Giants lose. Why didn't the Giants start Madison Bumgarner on two day's rest? He would have had all winter to rest his arm, you know. I've had someone suggest to me that if the Giants were going for their first championship since moving to San Francisco, you had better believe Bumgarner would be starting.
I disagree. I'm no mechancimatritian, nor am I an expert on the fatigue and recovery of major league pitchers, but off the top of my head, I'd rather trust Tim Hudson on full rest than Bumgarner on two day's rest. We're not talking about three day's rest, when it's proven that pitchers become significantly less effective. We're talking two day's rest in a season in which he's absolutely blown past his career high in innings. This isn't about the future or his health, even. It's about the pitcher most likely to do the things his catcher asks him do. Mitt goes down, ball hits mitt. Mitt goes down, ball hits mitt. I would trust a 39-year-old Tim Hudson to do that better than a tired Bumgarner.
We'll know in a few hours if that's stupid! Boy, we sure will. And how.
The one thing we're sure of is that Bumgarner isn't starting. So how will he be used? Possible spots:
As in, if/when Hudson gets into a jackpot, Bumgarner will come in and bail him out. Yusmeiro Petit has done this brilliantly in two postseason appearances, though his magic ran out in Game 6. Magic wouldn't have helped the Giants win in that situation. They needed cheating and dirty umpires, Ex-Lax in the Royals' Powerade jug and possibly a falcon attack. Alas, all they had was Petit's magic. It wasn't strong enough.
Bumgarner wouldn't be enough if the situation repeats itself, though. It was too late to bring Petit in. Maybe in the offseason I'll review Peavy's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad inning and see where he went wrong, and if Bochy's decision to not hit the Petit button earlier made any sense.
What would constitute a legitimate reason to light the Bumgarner signal? Two on with no outs in the second? One on with one out in the fourth? I don't know the matrix, here. I know that whatever Bochy does will be dumb and wrong to a very loud faction, unless it all works out, in which case he'll be dumb and lucky. For the rest of the world, though, this would be a tricky decision without the benefit of hindsight. At what point does it make sense to bring the tired ace to clean up and/or prevent a mess?
Dave Cameron suggests that Hudson gets pulled after one turn through the lineup. That's so, so counterintuitive and I can't imagine Bochy actually doing that if Hudson is pitching well.
Adding to the confusion is that the actual Petit is available. If the Giants need two innings of quick mop-up or preventative work, Petit might be the guy to do it early, with Bumgarner coming later in more of a matchup role.
This is probably the ideal situation. If the Giants get a lead -- hey, it can happen -- and Hudson somehow makes it through five or six innings, Bumgarner would probably pitch a couple innings to get the Giants to the relievers they trust, like Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla (or Romo against a right-handed hitter). How effective will Bumgarner be in an adrenaline-besotted situation with a tired arm in an unfamiliar role? No idea. And it's at this point that I'm going to finish this in bed, with the covers pulled entirely over my head.
In this scenario, Bumgarner becomes the Giants' version of Wade Davis, and they'll use him for an inning or two if the game is close in the later innings, as if he were a regular setup man or closer. Considering how well Affeldt and Casilla have pitched, though, I don't know why there would be such an urgency to experiment with a tired ace. Those roles aren't the problem with the 2014 Giants. It's getting to those guys. I'd be stunned if the Giants used Bumgarner as a high-leverage, late-inning reliever.
My guess: Bumgarner pitches the fourth and fifth innings if the Giants are leading or within a run. If the Royals jump on Hudson in the first two innings, maybe we'll see Bumgarner then.
Really, it's up to Hudson and the Giants lineup. Pitch well and hit a hittable Jeremy Guthrie, and make this all a moot point. Don't screw this up, gentlemen.
/Giants slip on banana peel, spilling hot soup everywhere and knocking over a baker's rack
Dammit, you weren't listening at all, were you?