Last week I surmised that Giants prospect Madison Bumgarner’s significant drop in velocity and recent struggles meant “something clearly isn’t right with him physically” and Rob Neyer of ESPN.com took that conclusion a step further:
I’m afraid this goes beyond “something clearly isn’t right with him physically at this point.” I’m afraid he’s hurt.
I’m sure the Giants would tell you that they’ve run all sorts of tests and they can’t find anything and it’s just a mechanical thing, and blah blah blah I’ve heard it all before. This kid’s probably been lighting up radar guns since he was in the ninth grade, and now all of a sudden he’s throwing 87 and all he needs to do is keep his elbow a little higher during his delivery? Maybe. But probably not.
Of course, we’re just a couple guys with keyboards and yesterday Giants general manager Brian Sabean assured Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News that “there is nothing physically the matter” with Bumgarner:
It’s this simple: He was preoccupied this winter and it cost him. He had personal stuff to straighten out, getting married, and he was ill-prepared to come into spring training. I don’t know how much he threw to get ready. Some of it is our fault because we didn’t track him as well as maybe we should. We’ve got to do a better job eyeballing that.
That all sounds perfectly reasonable until you consider that Bumgarner’s decline in velocity actually dates back to last season, when he averaged just 89.2 miles per hour with his fastball during a 10-inning stint in San Francisco. So yes, perhaps Bumgarner didn’t do everything he should have done this offseason, but if anything that only compounded a problem that had already surfaced months earlier.
Whatever the case, after giving up 11 runs over seven innings in his first two starts Bumgarner turned in a solid outing at Triple-A last night with six innings of two-run ball. He still managed only three strikeouts, but Fresno announcer Doug Greenwald told Baggarly that “the scoreboard radar gun had Bumgarner’s fastball consistently in the low 90s, topping out at 93 mph.”
The Rockies announced on Wednesday night that the club acquired relief pitcher Pat Neshek from the Phillies in exchange for three minor leaguers: infielder Jose Gomez, pitcher J.D. Hammer, and pitcher Alejandro Requena.
Neshek, 36, made the National League All-Star roster and currently owns a 1.12 ERA with a 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40 1/3 innings. He’ll help bolster the 58-44 Rockies’ bullpen as they vie for one of the two Wild Card slots realistically, and hope to overcome the Dodgers’ 12-game lead in the NL West.
Gomez, 20, is the Rockies’ No. 21 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He was signed out of Venezuela in July 2013. At Single-A Asheville this season, Gomez hit .324/.374/.437 in 351 plate appearances.
Hammer, 23, was selected by the Rockies in the 24th round of the 2016 draft. Between Asheville and High-A Lancaster this season, the right-hander owns a 2.36 ERA with a 65/14 K/BB r atio over 42 innings of relief.
Requena, 20, was signed as an international free agent by the Rockies in September 2013. With Asheville this season, the right-hander carries a 2.85 ERA with a 97/25 K/BB ratio in 117 innings across 19 starts.
Earlier, Craig wrote about the negative reaction within the Phillies’ clubhouse after outfielder Odubel Herrera A) flipped his bat on a fly out, and B) failing to run out a dropped third strike. Manager Pete Mackanin was one of Herrera’s critics, unsurprisingly, but so was catcher Cameron Rupp.
Via the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb, Rupp said that the Phillies’ frustration with Herrera is “not a secret.” He said, “Pete is the manager and what he asks us to do, we’re supposed to do. It’s a team thing and one guy can’t just not follow the rules. It’s not the first time. It has happened before and that’s something we don’t want to see. We want him in the game. He’s a good player. It’s hard for us. He’s a grown man. He has to learn on his own. We can only say so much.”
Though Rupp didn’t directly say his criticism of Herrera pertained to bat flips, we can logically deduce it as such. Herrera doesn’t commonly fail to run out dropped third strikes, but he does commonly flip his bat, particularly on non-homers.
Rupp had a good game against the Astros on Wednesday night, blasting a pair of two-run home runs. The problem? Rupp flipped his bat. In a 9-0 game.
The MLB.com video doesn’t really give a chance to see the full extent of Rupp’s flip, so here’s a .gif from Chris Jones:
And just in case anyone feels I’m interpreting the situation through a biased lens, Phillies beat writer Ryan Lawrence of The Philly Voice also saw it the same way.
We should probably expect Mackanin to bench Rupp for the next two games like he did Herrera, right? What’s that, you say? Certain players were more likely to be criticized for expressing emotion and perceived lack of hustle? Really makes you think.