Madison Bumgarner has started three times this season. He’s allowed 21 baserunners in 21 innings, striking out 24 and walking three. He’s averaging seven innings a start, thrown a complete game, and has an ERA of 3.43 and an FIP of 2.51.
The Giants have lost all three games he’s started.
It’s not like the 2017 season has one story yet. In two weeks, the story could be all the home runs the Giants are hitting. It could! You don’t know! Sure, the Giants haven’t hit a home run in four games, but in two weeks, that could be all the rage.
The early frontrunner for the 2017 story, though, is how the Giants do just enough to lose more than they win. Without looking, I’m going to guess there are least five pitchers who have made three starts without pitching nearly as well as Bumgarner has, but whose teams have a 3-0 record when they pitch. Maybe 10. And one of these months, Bumgarner will rattle off three good-not-great starts and win all three games by a combined 12 runs.
Right now, though, they lose when Bumgarner pitches. It’s not fun. To be clear, other than the first few innings of Opening Day, this hasn’t been Bumgarner at his absolute best. He was definitely off in the first couple innings tonight, missing within the strike zone and letting balls leak over the plate. The Trevor Story home run came on a bad pitch to a slumping hitter, and it deserved to be hit 100 feet farther. But he isn’t pitching poorly, and it’s not even close.
They’re losing because they’ve scored seven runs in those three Bumgarner starts, and that’s deceptive because his own two home runs are included in that. The other games? Sure, they’re scoring enough to be fourth in the NL in runs entering tonight’s game. When it’s Bumgarner’s turn, though, there’s nothing. I’d blame that on him matching up with other Opening Day starters, except he’s matched up with a shaky Zack Greinke, Jhoulys Chacin, and two innings of Jon Gray.
Doing just enough to lose: the 2017 Giants story. It doesn’t have to be the story of the season, of course. Here, have a Still Early mint, they’re free. It’s just the story right now, and it’s a drag.
The Giants got two hits and a walk in the ninth inning. They did not score. I’m so proud of them.
It’s important to clarify that both hits were hilarious — infield doinks — and there was an almost-double-play ball mixed in. The walk featured a close pitch in a two-strike count that some umpires would have called. There are earned rallies and there are rallies that someone stuffs down your pants while running away from the cops. This was one of the latter. It was a joke of a rally, and the Giants needed it.
But teams get garbage rallies in the ninth inning. Some teams get them often, and some teams get them once or twice a season, but they exist. That’s why the ninth-inning fail streak is so impressive. We’re coming up on two years without a ninth-inning comeback to win a game, which is really, really hard to do. Because these kinds of rallies exist. They aren’t exactly earned, but they exist, and they count exactly the same.
The Giants were a single away from tying the game. They were a double away from winning it. Eduardo Nuñez hit the ball hard, but he hit the ball hard like Madison Bumgarner pitched well.
You have to prepare yourself for the possibility that you sold your soul for three championships and Mephistopheles snuck in a but-they’ll-never-win-again-in-the-ninth clause while you were smoking confetti. I don’t know why you would do that, but you do a lot of stupid things when you drink, so I’m not getting involved.
Neil Ramirez’s FIP went from -1.84 to 0.17 tonight.
Just thought you should know that.
Before slamming your head in the refrigerator door a few times, repeat the following truths a few times:
- Madison Bumgarner is still outstanding.
- The lineup will be better with Buster Posey back, and he’s reportedly making progress.
- If left field continues to be a sinkhole, options will be explored.
- Jae-gyun Hwang is still a beautiful man with a beautiful plan that he can’t reveal to us just yet.
- Brandon Belt’s luck will get better. It does every year.
- Johnny Cueto is still on the team.
- This is still a good team.
- This is still a good team.
- This is probably still a good team.
What’s 4-7, anyway? Those numbers have a lot of angles and straight lines, but they lack nuance. This is still a good team.
This is probably still a good team.
See you back here tomorrow for another three or four hours or so.