In a move of either pure hubris or depressingly sound strategy, Madison Bumgarner is going to hit for himself in an American League ballpark. He’s the first pitcher to hit for himself in 40 years, with Ken Brett being the last one to do it in 1976.
Now, this isn’t the same thing as Madison Bumgarner acting as his own designated hitter. It’s different. The Giants are declining to use the DH, which means that when Bumgarner exits the game, they’re essentially playing with a National League roster, whereas the A’s get to keep their DH. It shouldn’t be a problem. Think about how many times relievers get to hit in the National League*. It takes a million-run deficit or lead, or it takes 14 innings.
And, what, you think that’s going to happen in this series between the A’s and Giants? Ha ha, oh, right, like there’s going to be a painful 14-inning loss in this series where the Giants get the bases loaded in the top of the 14th and have to let Chris Stratton hit. Ha ha, I’d like to see that.
So there’s that part, where the Giants lose the DH when Bumgarner leaves, but there’s also the part where Bumgarner is probably still at the "pretty great for a pitcher" level, which is delightful, except he’s probably still not as good as whichever outfielder is going to sit (probably Jarrett Parker or Gregor Blanco). Not trying to well-actually you or give you a Slate pitch! It’s just extraordinarily likely.
However, consider this:
Madison Bumgarner swings outside the strike zone
You are correct to use your somebody-learned-how-to-putt voice, but only this once. How about raw swing percentage?
He’s doing better at recognizing the slop that pitchers have been giving him for years, which increases the chances of him seeing something in the strike zone. It’s why he’s already tied his career high in walks.
Maybe ... maybe he’s already better than pretty-good-for-a-pitcher?
Either way, I don’t disbelieve in the idea that hitting is good for his concentration or rhythm or what have you. The difference between Bumgarner and Parker (vs. a lefty, no less) is going to be negligible over a 4-PA sample, so it’s not worth getting worked up over.
However, if he hits a dinger — not a single or a double, but an actual dinger — it will almost make this whole stupid interleague acid bath worth it. Almost. Here he is hitting a dinger against the A's, for good measure:
An inside-the-park homer would make all of existence worthwhile, really.
Madison Bumgarner doesn’t need your stupid DH, American League. Now let’s sit back and hope that the Giants know what in the heck they’re doing. And maybe they can humor us with a game that's not completely dumb along the way.
* Why do American League teams even bother having a bench, really? Now, that’s the life for me: bench player in the AL. Just hanging out, watching baseball, and playing my DS.Stupid league.