According to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News, the Giants will call up Madison Bumgarner to start against the Red Sox on Saturday.
Bumgarner was scratched from his start for Triple-A Fresno on Friday night, but the Giants downplayed the whole situation at first, saying that he would only be used if Joe Martinez was needed in relief on Friday night. While Martinez did warm up, he never entered the game. Still, after Friday’s game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said they “needed a fresh arm.” In other words, the Giants probably intended to go with Bumgarner all along.
The 20-year-old left-hander had a chance to make the team out of spring training, but gave up five runs over seven innings (6.43 ERA) while showing decreased velocity, eventually losing the fifth starter gig to Todd Wellemeyer. Bumgarner has turned it around since then, going 7-1 with a 3.16 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP over 14 starts with Triple-A Fresno, touching 90-93 mph on the radar gun in recent starts.
The 2007 first-round pick posted a 1.80 ERA in three relief appearances and one start as a September call-up last season. Despite concerns about his velocity, Baseball America ranked him as the No. 14 prospect in all of baseball over the winter.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.