Bumgarner’s Major League Debut

When the Giants announced they would skip Tim Lincecum start, the disappointment of not getting to see a potential back-to-back Cy Young pitcher in the heat of a Wild Card race, was tempered by the excitement of seeing his replacement, Madison Bumgarner, get the first Major League start of his career.

Coming into the season Bumgarner was widely consider one of the top ten prospects in the game. Since then no one can argue with the results, as he has gone 9-1 with a 1.93 ERA 19 year old in AA. But the way he got there has been a little disappointing, his strikeout rate has fallen to 5.8 per 9 and his walk rate risen to a still good 2.52 per 9 . So a tiniest bit of the top-prospect sheen has probably come off, still he was young for that level and no one disputes his enormous potential.

His start against the Padres went pretty well, 5.1 innings, four strikeouts, one walk and two runs given up on solo homers to Kevin Kouzmanoff and Chase Headley. It looks to me like Bumgarner threw 51 fastballs, six changeups and 19 of the breaking pitch he has been working on improving this year, which looks like a slider.

movement
The pitchf/x system had his fastball in the high 80s and only breaking 90 mph twice. I think the system might have been a little ‘cold’ (there is some game to game variation in the pitch/fx readings), since he is reported to work in the low 90s and Kevin Correia‘s fastballs were clocked about one mph slower than his average.

Here are the locations of this his pitches to RHBs, with swung at pitches darkened, whiffs outlined in black and the two home runs outlined in red.
pitch_loc_fa
He kept the off-speed and breaking pitches down or away and got some whiffs on them. The fastball was in and around the zone, he has great control, and got a fair number of called strikes.

Over all an exciting and encouraging outing for a talented pitcher getting his first start in the majors just a month after his 20th birthday.



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Dave Allen's other baseball work can be found at Baseball Analysts.


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puck
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puck
7 years 17 days ago

On other sites, people are posting that Bumgarner’s velocity has been down this season (while some have posted that his velocity was down the latter part of the minor league season). I think Neyer though his arm slot even dropped some. Can anyone speak to this info?

If it’s really the case his velocity went down sometime during the season, it seems odd for the Giants not to shut him down out of injury concerns. If his velocity has been down all season, that’s still troubling.

Mariner
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Mariner
7 years 17 days ago

“19 year old in AAA”

Just an edit error but I believe that should be “19 year old in AA”. Bumgarner was pitching in AA before the call up. I don’t believe he’s pitched in AAA yet.

Mariner
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Mariner
7 years 17 days ago

Good write-up. It will be interesting to see if Bumgarner’s velocity bounces back next season. As noted above and in other publications, it has been rumored to be down a few mph this season.

Tim Alderson (former Giants prospect) is also rumored to be having velocity issues this season. Having previously been described as having an “average” velocity fastball, Alderson is now said to be pitching in the high 80’s, which is definately below average for a right hander.

Something to definately watch for both of them in the future.

John
Guest
7 years 17 days ago

great to see the future pitch last night. even with a dead arm, he showed real potential.

as painful as it is, it has become necessary to hope sf loses. sabean must be held accountable for his errors and be fired. you can’t do what he’s done and pick up an extension. chances are he’ll stick, and it’s very unfortunate.

it is so upsetting to think of molina being brought back to catch everyday. and management doesn’t have the guts to replace renteria, a true cancer (despite the thrilling GS 10 days ago). will they find the corner outfielder that’s needed? or are they excited by velez/schier

in brighter news, dave roberts comes off the payroll. dear lord.

JDSussman
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JDSussman
7 years 17 days ago

Dave,

The p/fx wasn’t off. There have been a ton of reports of his velocity loss.

I love p f/x btw

asdf
Guest
asdf
7 years 17 days ago

His Velocity was in the mid 90’s during spring training, so it’s only recently that he’s lost velocity

“Asked about his velocity dip after the game, Bumgarner didn’t duck it. He said it’s been an issue in some of his most recent starts at Double-A Connecticut as well. But he isn’t sure of the cause.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It feels the same coming out, it’s just not reading on the radar gun. I guess I may be getting a little tired. I don’t feel it, but I guess that’s what’s happening. Hard to say.”

Sounds like a dead-arm.

Dave C
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Dave C
7 years 17 days ago

Madison Bumgarner looked a little nevous at the begining of the game and seemed to get more relaxed as the game progressed. His fastball was only hitting the high 80’s, with very little movement. i certainly hope this was caused by it being September and his arm is getting tired. He didn’t look bad, but also didn’t look like the stud everyone expects.

DC
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DC
7 years 17 days ago

One thing to notice it that the kid can also swing the bat. I was in the LF bleachers and I almost soiled myself when I thought he hit one out to LF.

But yeah, I would have preferred that he not even be called up, as his secondary stuff just isn’t there and it’s not worth having him being decent while starting his clock.

But I do think it’s saying a lot about the kid when his breaking ball is nothing special but he can still get by with that great deceptive fastball and control.

B
Guest
B
7 years 17 days ago

But can he really get by? Not walking hitters is always a great start, but he’s not known as a GB pitcher (though he did get a lot last night, small samples will do that), and he probably won’t strike many people out with an 88-90 mph fastball, so it’s hard to imagine he can even be decent at this point without some amount of luck involved…

That said, I’m still optimistic about his future. Once he gets at least a little velocity back, and works a bit more on his offspeed stuff he can definitely be that frontline pitcher us Giants fans are imagining. He’s just not ready for that yet…(that’s what usually happens when you’re only 20)…

Eric Cioe
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Eric Cioe
7 years 17 days ago

It’s certainly possible to strike out a lot of hitters with a 88-90 mph fastball and good control. Look at Dan Haren. Not saying that Bumgarner is even close to that, but if he his secondary offerings develop and his control goes back to where it was before, then even without 94, he might be able to punch guys out pretty well.

B
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B
7 years 17 days ago

True, Bumgarner does seem to have the control stuff down pretty well already…

Alireza
Guest
7 years 12 days ago

Haren can dial it up if he needs to. I don’t know if this guy can. That said, lefties are a different animal and guys like Tom Glavine were able to strike guys out without an overpowering heater. Even right handed Greg Maddux was able to do it without huge velocity. Orel Hershiser is another example.

Mike Rogers
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Mike Rogers
7 years 17 days ago

Adam Foster who runs Project Prospect noted he was 92-94 (I think, going off memory) in Minor League Spring Training. But, he saw him twice in the season and both times he was 88-92, but more in the 88-90 range.

I don’t think this is an isolated incident or “dead arm.” Those were back earlier in the year. I think he’s a case of multiple reports being his maxed-out velocity and it just getting taken and reported as his “sitting” velocity. Remember how Rick Porcello “sat” at 94-96 when he came out of high school, only that when he started pitching professionally he said/scouting reports changed to fit the 92 MPH sinker baller?

Second or third-hand scouting reports aren’t that reliable and Bumgarner just shows how much stock we should put into the mass scouting reports in terms of velocity: not a lot, anymore.

B
Guest
B
7 years 17 days ago

Eh, pretty much everyone that saw him all last year reported he sat in the low-mid 90’s (92-93ish). Enough people were on this (and this was professional, not high school or even college) that I don’t see a reason to doubt their reports. Even reports from spring training and earlier this year had his sitting velocity significantly greater than it’s been the last month or so. The drop in velocity was pretty well publicized (at least for Giants fans who follow this stuff) long before last night. I don’t see any reason to think the scouting reports just missed on their velocity reports.

Mike Rogers
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Mike Rogers
7 years 17 days ago

I didn’t see reports that noted he sits in the 88-92 range. Everything I had read essentially just quoted Baseball America which seems to just take someone one person (in this case, Ben Badler) says and uses it as their scouting report for the duration of the player’s prospect years. It’s always been “mid-90’s heat” and sitting 93-94.

B
Guest
B
7 years 17 days ago

I didn’t see reports he sits there, either. The reports were, like you said, he throws in the 90’s. I read stuff from plenty of people who saw him pitch, including normal fans that had him sitting in the 90’s. Around the end of July or so it was noted he lost some velocity. Here’s an example:
http://www.mccoveychronicles.com/2009/7/28/967189/goldstein-on-madbum-panic-time

Giants fans have been discussing this issue for over a month now. Something has quite clearly happened to his velocity. It really was higher than that before. I think it’ll come back somewhat next year, though.

Nick
Guest
7 years 17 days ago

Dave, I appreciate the work, but it seems you are missing a pretty big storyline here. Last year, Bumgarner’s veloctiy was reported in the mid 90’s and he struck out nearly 11 per 9. This year in A+, before he got promoted, he was striking out nearly 9 per 9 innings, which isn’t that big of a concern.

However, since moving to AA, his strikeout rate has plummeted. If you combine that with his underwhelming velocity last night, it seems pretty evident that he is injured, or very fatigued to say the least. IMO, the Giants should be shutting down this guy.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Guest
7 years 17 days ago

From what I understand, the story is that Bumgarner had mid-90’s stuff until a month or two ago, then his velocity went down. No explanation for it, but there must not be any physical problem because otherwise the Giants would have shut him down – they did that with Cain his first pro season and Lincecum his first MLB season.

Dead arm is hopefully what that is, but he threw 145.1 IP last season, so his 128.2 IP (plus now 5.1 IP) for this season is not even more than what he threw last season.

My worry, since the start of last season, is that this might be related to his mechanics. The Giants tried to change his mechanics at the start of 2008, but after 3 horrible starts, he went back to his original mechanics and was virtually untouchable, 0.90 ERA. I assume he has been using the same mechanics this season. Hopefully this is not the case, but we can only wait and see.

Mike Rogers
Guest
Mike Rogers
7 years 17 days ago

It’s hard to know pitch counts of anything below Triple-A, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a larger pitch count limitation than he did last year. That would make his 130+ innings this year more than his 145 IP last year.

prospecttube
Guest
7 years 17 days ago

Re: Porcello

The big difference right now is his reliance on a 2 seamer vs 4 seamer. According to pitchfx, he actually hit 97 last night in his start. The mid 90’s is still there, although most likely not with a 2 seamer. The question for Bumgarner is different, does he still have the mid 90’s FB in him? And if he doesn’t, what happened? The latter question should be directed at the SF player development staff.

Mike Rogers
Guest
Mike Rogers
7 years 17 days ago

I know that Porcello’s a sinker baller and he can hit 95. However, the reports were out of high school that he sits in the mid-90’s back then which he even said wasn’t the case. I’ll have to do some digging to find the interview, but he had said in a Lakeland newspaper I believe it was, that he has always preferred the 2-seam over the 4-seam and getting ground balls. I’m sure that he didn’t just start doing that in pro ball and that it was there in high school. But, the public only gets the scouting reporting maximum velocity rather than where a pitcher normally sits.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Guest
7 years 17 days ago

Very good rundown about Bumgarner in Baseball America: http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/?p=6374

Goes over the velocity issue and observations by a scout who has seen him in a variety of games.

cody
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cody
7 years 17 days ago

Maybe Bumgarner will pick up velocity like Lester.

Matthew
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Matthew
7 years 17 days ago

maybe bumgarner is past his prime.. maybe he will loose more velocity..

SharksRog
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SharksRog
7 years 17 days ago

At San Jose, Tim Alderson was throwing 89-91 while topping out at 92 when he pitched San Jose’s Cal League playoff opener.

In Madison Bumgarner’s April 10th debut at San Jose this season, he sat at 91-93 and topped out at 94. Last night Mad Bum was sitting at 87-89, bottoming out at 86 and topping out at 90.

Naturally there can be small differences in guns and perhaps in the same gun at a different time.

Brooksy Boy
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Brooksy Boy
7 years 15 days ago

joseph, you make a cogent point, concisely stated and brilliantly argued. Bravo joseph, way to stand up and say what needed to be said!

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