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.”

Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reportedly agree to 4-year deal

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – The active Philadelphia Phillies added Taijuan Walker to their rotation on Tuesday, agreeing to a $72 million, four-year contract with the right-hander.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

It was the second major free-agent score for the Phillies at the winter meetings after they reeled in shortstop Trea Turner on Monday with a $300 million, 11-year deal. Walker and Turner join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.

The 30-year-old Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season for the New York Mets, one of Philadelphia’s biggest NL East rivals. He slots into a rotation fronted by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

The Phillies recently lost pitcher Zach Eflin in free agency to Tampa Bay.

Asked about the market for Walker earlier in the day, agent Scott Boras said it was robust.

“As you can see in the marketplace, there’s a whole number of pitchers that are throwing 60 and 70 innings that have been pursued, probably with the exception of (Jacob) deGrom, at the lower end of threshold around $13-15 million a year because the demand for quality pitching is so great,” Boras said.

“So, Tai … is one of the younger ones, one of the more durable ones and we expect him to be pursued greatly as his market unfolds.”

Walker was selected by Seattle with the No. 43 pick in the 2010 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Mariners in 2013.

Walker signed with New York as a free agent in February 2021. He turned down a $7.5 million player option last month in favor of a $3 million buyout, making his deal worth $17 million over two seasons.

The 6-foot-4 Walker made the All-Star team for the first time in 2021, putting together a fast start before fading to a 7-11 record with a 4.47 ERA in 30 games, 29 starts.