Madison Bumgarner fans 11 as Giants shut out Cubs

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Madison Bumgarner is doing his best to keep the Giants in the race.

He allowed two hits and matched his career high with 11 strikeouts over eight innings in a 4-0 victory over the Cubs on Wednesday.  It was just his ninth win of the season, but the Giants did improve to 9-4 in his last 13 starts.

Bumgarner himself is 9-12 with a 3.43 ERA.  That’s because the Giants have scored a total of 88 runs in his 28 starts, an average of 3.14 per game.  It’s low even by their standards: they’re averaging 3.43 runs per game when he doesn’t start.

But Bumgarner is coming into his own.  He’s up to 157 strikeouts in 173 1/3 innings for the season.  He’s 11th in the NL in K/9 IP, sixth in HR/9 IP and 7th with a 3.83 K/BB ratio, all at the tender age of 22.

Bumgarner doesn’t fare quite so well in the ERA rankings, in part because he had maybe the worst start by any major leaguer this season: eight earned runs and nine hits in one-third of an inning against the Twins back on June 21.  But he’s had 13 starts in which he’s allowed one or no earned runs.

It seems obvious that he’ll have to keep it up if the Giants are going to have any chance of overtaking the Diamondbacks in the NL West.  Fortunately, he’s looking like the game’s youngest stopper at the moment.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.