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Is it time to worry about Madison Bumgarner?

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Probably not. It is time to project his 2015 season, though.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

A couple of months after Madison Bumgarner came out of the Kauffman Stadium bullpen, riding an allosaurus that devoured everything in its path, he was in the Scottsdale bullpen, trying to figure out what's wrong. Repeating the mantra "it's only spring" helps, but with every start, the words start bouncing off the walls of your brain. They leave a chalky taste in your mouth. It's only spring. It's only spring. Bleah. Hrrkleeahhck.

Seriously, though. It's only spring!

It's only spring.

It's only spring.

Four games. Eight-and-one-third innings. Solid strikeout numbers. One walk. A billion hits. Two dingers. An 8.64 ERA. A bullpen session after his latest awful start, planned because of intra-division subterfuge, but still. We were told that Madison Bumgarner was going to be tired after throwing the most innings in postseason history. Here are 8⅓ innings of proof.

We know that 8⅓ innings of proof is the baseball equivalent of this:

nessie

We can see the outline of a neck. It's probably a monster. They didn't have Photoshop back then, you know. Probably legit. And you can't Photoshop a pitching line. Ex prompter post hoc ergo, Madison Bumgarner is probably broken. That's a monster, and Madison Bumgarner is probably broken. Is that your paper bag? Mind if I breathe in it for a few hours? I'll get it back to you. All breathed in.

It's only spring. Does anyone even remember what Bumgarner was doing in spring last year?

2014

IP: 22.2
ERA: 1.19
K: 22
BB: 2

Oh. What about 2013?

2013

IP: 19.2
ERA: 2.29
K: 18
BB: 7

Uhh ... let's see 2012, then.

2012

IP: 24.1
ERA: 2.59
K: 27
BB: 6

Oh, come on. I'll bet 2011 was awful.

2011

IP: 27.1
ERA: 5.93
K: 31
BB: 8

YES. SEE? IT'S ONLY SPRING. HE'S HAD BAD SPRINGS BEFORE.

It's only spring. I'm ignoring it, dammit. You can freak out. I'm going to just breathe into this here paper bag ...

And if you're ignoring the spring, what you have is one of the most compelling, interesting pitchers in baseball. The A's are hoping for a breakout season from Sonny Gray. Same with Jesse Hahn. The continued evolution of both pitchers is central to their plans to contend. They're the same age as Bumgarner. So if it's reasonable to expect young pitchers like Gray and Hahn to improve, why should we settle for this version of Bumgarner? Maybe instead of worrying about his postseason workload, we should get greedy. This is a 25-year-old pitcher. Can't they get better?

Maybe! It's probably not a good idea to expect it, but not goofy to hope for it. We expect-hoped for it last year:

Madison Bumgarner (2014 Projection)
IP: 214
ERA: 2.44
K: 218
B: 47
HR (allowed): 15
HR (hit): 2

That was too optimistic. Probably because I knew how the postseason was going to happen, but I couldn't tell you. But the ERA was too low, probably because I underestimated the dingers allowed. Noted.

Pitchers don't develop in a linear fashion -- hitters don't either, but they fake it better than pitchers -- so expectations should probably be pegged to what Bumgarner has done in the past. This is a good thing because my expert analysis shows that Bumgarner has pitched very well in the past.

Year Age ERA CG IP HR BB SO
2010 20 3.00 0 111 11 26 86
2011 21 3.21 0 204.2 12 46 191
2012 22 3.37 2 208.1 23 49 191
2013 23 2.77 0 201.1 15 62 199
2014 24 2.98 4 217.1 21 43 219

Year ERA+ FIP HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2010 131 3.66 0.9 2.1 7 3.31
2011 109 2.67 0.5 2 8.4 4.15
2012 105 3.50 1 2.1 8.3 3.90
2013 124 3.05 0.7 2.8 8.9 3.21
2014 117 3.05 0.9 1.8 9.1 5.09

He cut down on walks last year, without losing the strikeouts. I'd say he already has improved, but the FIP doesn't show that. I don't know what FIP really is at this point. I'm such a fraud. Luckily Madison Bumgarner isn't! It's only spring.

It's only spring

It's only spring.

It's only spring?

Madison Bumgarner

IP: 218
ERA: 3.19
K: 220
BB: 40
HR (allowed): 20
HR (hit): 3

Damn straight, it's only spring. Madison Bumgarner will be fine. I'll put my paper-thin reputation on it.