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.”
Jacob deGrom put together one of the best post-season starts in Mets history, outdueling three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw to pitch his team into a 1-0 NLDS lead. The right-hander fanned 13 over seven shutout innings, holding the Dodgers to five hits and a walk as the Mets won 3-1.
deGrom’s game score of 79 is the fifth-best by a Mets starter in the playoffs, behind Jon Matlack, Mike Hampton, Bobby Jones, and Tom Seaver, according to Baseball Reference. As Katie Sharp notes on Twitter, deGrom is one of three pitchers to hold the opposition scoreless on 13 or more strikeouts and one or fewer walks. The other two are Tim Lincecum and Mike Scott.
In the eighth inning, reliever Tyler Clippard allowed a one-out double to Howie Kendrick followed by an RBI single to Adrian Gonzalez as the Dodgers finally got on the board. Closer Jeurys Familia entered and recorded the final out of the eighth inning by inducing a weak line out from Justin Turner. In the ninth, Familia worked a 1-2-3 frame to wrap up the game.
Kershaw remains winless in the post-season since Game 1 of the 2013 NLDS, a span of seven starts. He gave up a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning, then walked the bases loaded in the seventh inning before departing with two outs. Reliever Pedro Baez entered and allowed two of his inherited runners to score when David Wright lined a single to center field. On the evening, Kershaw was on the hook for three runs on four hits and four walks with 11 strikeouts. Though he lost his command a bit towards the end of his start, the lefty pitched quite well and will be on the receiving end of some unnecessary criticism as a result of taking another post-season loss.
deGrom and Kershaw both struck out 11 batters, the first time that has happened in a major league post-season game.
Michael Cuddyer didn’t look too good out in left field for the Mets.
Game 2 of the NLDS will continue on Saturday at 9:00 PM EDT. Noah Syndergaard will start for the Mets opposite Zack Greinke of the Dodgers.
For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per MLB.com’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers over six frames on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and four walks total in 6 2/3 innings.
The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.
Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.
Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.
With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.