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.
If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.
Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 13 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.
Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.
Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.
TMZ is reporting that actor Charlie Sheen has the original cast on board for Major League III but is still looking for financial backing. TMZ cites Sheen referring to the script as “dynamite.”
The original Major League came out in 1989 and debuted at No. 1 at the box office. That spurred a sequel, Major League II, which was released five years later in 1994. Despite negative reviews, II debuted at No. 1 at the box office as well. Major League: Back to the Minors was released in 1998, but tanked at the box office and received mostly negative reviews.
Given that trend, one might wonder why anyone would attempt Major League III, and one would be correct to raise that question. But it’s been 19 years since the last installment and 27 years since the original. People in their early 30’s and 40’s with nostalgia and disposable income will likely be willing to pay to relive a blast from the past. In my humble opinion, Major League is the finest of the baseball movies, so I’ll at least be curious if Sheen ends up getting financial backing.
Sheen has had, well, an interesting life in the last two decades so it’s no sure thing that people with money will trust him to stay out of trouble.