Giants send struggling Bumgarner to Triple-A

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Sporting a 27-5 record and 1.65 ERA in the minors Madison Bumgarner ranked 14th on Baseball America‘s annual list of the game’s top prospects and began spring training as the favorite to claim the final spot in San Francisco’s rotation.
Unfortunately the 20-year-old southpaw showed up at Giants camp with his fastball topping out in the 80s, continuing a worrisome trend from late last season when his velocity dropped from mid-90s to low-90s.
Bumgarner appeared in three spring games, tossing seven innings with a 6.43 ERA, zero strikeouts, and seven walks, and this afternoon the Giants optioned him to Triple-A.
Obviously something isn’t right with Bumgarner physically, but setting that aside there’s certainly no harm in letting a 20-year-old spend some time at Triple-A before handing him a rotation spot. In this case the move not only gives Bumgarner some additional minor-league seasoning and likely allows the Giants to eventually push his free agency back another year, it lets him try to work out the kinks in a low-pressure environment.
Now that Bumgarner is out of the picture, for a bit at least, Todd Wellemeyer is likely to begin the season as the Giants’ fifth starter. Wellemeyer is almost a dozen years Bumgarner’s senior and has 191 more games of big-league experience, but he’s also a question mark after an injury wrecked 2009. However, he’s looked healthy this spring and went 13-9 with a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts for the Cardinals in 2008.

Corey Knebel sets modern record for consecutive appearances with a strikeout

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Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.

Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.

Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.

Joey Votto thinks he can win the Home Run Derby, but hasn’t been invited yet

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Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.

In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”

Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.

Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.