Will the Giants get the good or bad Madison Bumgarner in Game 2 tonight?

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Madison Bumgarner was bumped from the Giants’ rotation in the NLCS after back-to-back poor playoff starts in which he failed to make it out of the fifth inning, but manager Bruce Bochy is putting his faith in the 23-year-old left-hander tonight.

Bochy chose Bumgarner to make the Game 2 start rather than Tim Lincecum, who was used in relief of Barry Zito in Game 1 last night and has been brilliant for the Giants out of the bullpen all postseason.

Bumgarner has been anything but brilliant as a starter, allowing opponents to hit .385 off him while coughing up 10 runs in eight innings, and he also struggled down the stretch with a 5.89 ERA in his final seven regular season starts.

So why is Bochy trusting Bumgarner in Game 2? Well, for one thing he’s been one of the best left-handers in baseball since joining the rotation in mid-2010 and was the Giants’ second-best starter overall this season, throwing 208 innings with a 3.37 ERA and 191/49 K/BB ratio. And last time Bumgarner took the mound in the World Series he shut out the Rangers for eight innings in Game 4 two years ago, allowing just three hits in one of the best postseason performances ever by a 22-year-old.

“I feel good about Madison,” Bochy said, via Lyle Spencer of MLB.com. “He’s had a great year. He’s done a great job for us since he’s been up here, including postseason. This is a small sample on a couple hiccups he had earlier, and I think he’s getting some much-needed rest and some time to work on making a couple adjustments in his delivery.”

Bochy and the Giants think Bumgarner has corrected some mechanical issues that hurt his performance. Pitching coach Dave Righetti studied video with Bumgarner, who found that he’d been reaching further back in his delivery than usual. “I think throwing the way I was throwing was causing a lot more stress on my body, and that was causing me to tire out more quickly,” Bumgarner said, via Jane Lee of MLB.com. “We got that all worked out now, I think.”

Of course, Jose Valverde also claimed to have corrected a mechanical issue between the ALCS and World Series, and … well, saw how that worked out last night. Bumgarner last started 11 days ago, but he’s been throwing bullpen sessions to stay sharp since then and declared himself “good and ready to go.”

The Marlins made an empty threat. Giancarlo Stanton made an empty promise.

Associated Press
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I covered the main press conference about Giancarlo Stanton earlier, but afterward he and his agents fanned out to various TV shows, radio shows and reporter scrums from which some new, fun things have spun out. Part of what they’ve talked about is silly and meaningless, part of it just meaningless.

Here’s the silly and meaningless, from a Marlins official, apparently, trying to bully Stanton into accepting either the Giants or the Cardinals trades despite the fact that he told them beforehand that he was not willing to go to either of those teams:

This is silly because it comes off like a threat. Like the worst possible thing that can happen to a guy is to stay with the very team that is making the threat. It’s like telling your wife that if she does not leave you, she’s stuck with you forever.

It’s meaningless too, in that Stanton has an opt-out clause after 2020. If the Marlins could not make a trade Stanton would approve, he’d simply collect close to $90 million and then leave at age 30. Oooh, don’t throw me into that briar patch, Mr. Jeter!

Not that Stanton’s people are offering statements of serious gravitas. His agent was asked about Stanton’s opt-out rights, which he retains even though he’s now with the Yankees:

That may very well be true! He just got here and everything is going great so far. It’s totally empty, of course, because anything can happen between now and the fall of 2020. If the big time free agents of the next two years sign for the sort of money that makes Stanton look underpaid, he’ll certainly opt-out, even if he wants to stay with the Yankees. Ask Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia how that works. The opt-out clause is pure, unadulterated leverage for a player and unless he totally craters over the next three seasons he’ll most certainly use it, regardless of present desires.

Which, hey, that’s how things work when a big trade or free agent signing happens. Everyone who has lost looks bad and everyone who won sounds happy. Then, later, the baseball happens.