Saturday, April 22, 2017

Madison Bumgarner's Date with Dirt

For the last three years, the San Francisco Giants have had success with pitcher Madison Bumgarner leading the way for them. Even though he has been there since 2009 and has three World Series championships, he was never a lights out guy. He put up respectable numbers between 2010 and 2012, but it wasn't until 2013 where he started to pick up. Since then, his strikeout numbers have have gotten higher each year. The earned run average was below three each year. And his bat has a little pop with getting home runs. It has been a tough going for San Francisco to begin 2017, and this incident could mean they could be out of playoff contention even before they are eliminated.

Bumgarner, this past Thursday, was riding a dirt bike in Colorado as the Giants had an off day before facing the Rockies. He wound up in an accident that left him with bruised ribs and a sprained left shoulder, which is his throwing arm. This has serious implications as he could potentially be out until early to mid June. It could be longer. It could be shorter That depends on how he feels with throwing the ball. You're putting a lot of strength into throwing it and sending to the catcher at 90 to 100 miles per hour. It's like golf in a way. If your body is not healthy enough to hit a golf ball, you're going to have a very tough time playing 18 holes unless you fix the problem.

Right now, San Francisco is in the midst of a mediocre start, which is still part of their hangover last year when they struggled during the second half of the 2016 season. With a loss last night to Colorado, they are now 6 and 11. Their pitching staff can be good, but some of their guys tend to be streaky. Matt Cain and Jeff Samardzija are inconsistent at times. Matt Moore hasn't done much since his 2013 campaign with the Tampa Bay Rays. Johnny Cueto can be good when he can play a full season. Their offense is far from putrid, but it could be better. Relief pitching could still be an issue.

Until there is a clear timetable of being out and coming back, Bumgarner's injury could be a reason that the Giants don't make it back into the playoffs. I know he's not the only factor, but he is a very important player that is needed at the right time. Case in point being the 2014 World Series and stopping the Royals in Game 7 as a reliever. It is early in the season and way too early to talk playoffs, but the NL West is looking different to begin this year. Colorado and the Arizona Diamondbacks are sitting at first and second in the division respectively. It will be a long road ahead to get past these guys, even if they struggle and give the Los Angeles Dodgers first place sometime this season.

Things could get better or worse. The length of time for Bumgarner's injury will make it either a very long season or one where expectations could be a bit higher unless San Francisco struggles more like they are right now.

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