Why Bumgarner And Lincecum Should Start First 2 Home Games In Playoffs


The resurgence of Tim Lincecum, the downfall of Ryan Vogelsong, and the sneaky goodness of Barry Zito, creates a difficult situation for Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy. You can add Madison Bumgarner’s mechanical issues to that list as well.

But I’m sure Bochy would rather be facing a situation in which he has the benefit of knowing his team is already in the playoffs, rather than a situation in which he’s still battling for a spot.

In all of this nonsense, three pitchers have emerged. Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Tim Lincecum will presumably be the trio that hopes to carry San Francisco through the postseason and onto Market Street for their second parade in three years.

While we pretty much know whose going to hold those coveted postseason roster spots, in which order will the rotation take shape?

(Note: All of the stats and analysis are based on the Giants playing the Reds in the first round which is currently what would happen)

Madison Bumgarner

Yes, it’s bold, but Bumgarner’s home and away splits prove that he’s a safe bet for game one at home. He has allowed 16 of his 21 home runs on the road. Plus, you have to factor in the fact that Great American Park plays small. Per ESPN Park factors, it’s the second best hitters park in the majors for home runs. Simply put, Bumgarner and Great American Park don’t mix, represented by his career 11.25 ERA in Cincinnati. That number is based on one start.

Starting Bumgarner at the friendly confines of AT&T Park is an entirely different story, however. The lefty owns a solid 2.38 ERA at home. He also carved up the Reds on June 28th en route to a one-hit shutout.

While Cain certainly deserves the nod as the number one starter in the postseason, the Giants’ best bet is to set Bumgarner up for success. Which entails starting him at AT&T Park so he can reap the benefits of the spacious dimensions like he has all year.

Tim Lincecum

Another bold move, but there’s good reasoning behind it. Like Bumgarner, Lincecum thrives off the larger dimensions in San Francisco. His home and away ERAs are like numbers from two different planets. To be exact, he owns a respectable 3.67 home ERA, but a 6.46 road ERA.

Also like Bumgarner, Lincecum didn’t fare well in his only career start at Great American Park, surrendering five runs in six innings pitched. That’s good enough for a 7.50 ERA. Additionally, 13 of his 19 allowed home runs have come on the road. Well, I guess that’s like Bumgarner as well.

Seeing a pattern yet?

If not, keep digging. Most would assume that since Lincecum has a relatively low fly ball rate (29%), pitching at Great American Park wouldn’t be too difficult. Or at least not to the extent where the Giants would prefer to keep him out of that stadium entirely. Yet, that clearly isn’t the case. It’s his line drive rate (24%) that brings ugly situations to sight. You might as well convert line drives in fly balls into home runs in Cincinnati because there are few factors permitting fly balls from carrying over the walls.

Matt Cain

And finally, Matt Cain. I get it, starting game one of the postseason has some meaning behind it. It’s almost like an award. Be that as it may, Cain is the Giants’ best suited pitcher to fare well in Great American Park.

Cain, who allowed five runs in 6.2 innings to the Reds back in late June, has been one of the only Giants’ pitchers to have success at Great American Park. In five career starts (34 IP), has totaled a 3.44 ERA. He has also yielded the Reds to just three home runs over that span.

The one thing that Cain doesn’t have working in his favor is the fact that he heavily relies on inducing fly balls to get outs. As aforementioned, this approach doesn’t fare well in Cincinnati. However, the stats shown that despite his approach, he can still pitch well in the hitters park.