Giants starter Madison Bumgarner is used to homering off opposing pitchers. He has 14 career home runs on his ledger. He is not, however, used to opposing pitchers homering off of him. Bumgarner had never allowed the opposing pitcher to homer in his eight-year career entering Monday night’s NLDS Game 3 start against the Cubs.
Cubs starter Jake Arrieta changed that in the top of the second inning. The Cubs’ offense made Bumgarner labor. Ben Zobrist grounded out on the sixth pitch he saw to lead off the frame. Addison Russell was hit with the eighth pitch of his at-bat. Javier Baez saw eight pitches before singling on number nine. Miguel Montero lined out on the first pitch he saw, bringing up Arrieta with Bumgarner having already thrown 24 pitches in the inning. Arrieta took a first-pitch ball, then swung through two fastballs. Bumgarner came in with another fastball and Arrieta launched a three-run homer over the fence in left field, staking the Cubs to a 3-0 lead.
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Arrieta is no slouch at the plate. He’s not quite Bumgarnerian, but he has homered twice in each of the last two seasons.
The Cubs lead the NLDS 2-0 over the Giants. They’re looking to sweep in San Francisco tonight.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.