Madison Bumgarner Set to Take on a Tough Pirate Squad


Madison Bumgarner has had one start against the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. That July 28th start at home was not one to write home about. Mad Bum went just four innings, allowing six hits and five runs, equalling his shortest outing of the season for the San Francisco Giants.

The Pirates also won the season series, 4-2, with both Giants’ wins coming from good offensive outings, scoring seven and eleven runs. In the four losses, the Giants totaled just five runs.

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That’s the bad news. The good news comes in the form of Bumgarner. Yes, he had a bad outing against this same Pirates’ team in July, but this Giants team is playing much better of late. Chalk that start up to a case of scurvy.

We’ve all heard of Bumgarner’s splits. At home, the lefty posted an ERA of 4.03, and went 7-6. On the road, he was much better, posting a 2.22 ERA and an 11-4 record. Also, since the second wild card game was added, the road team has won three of the four contests. In this instance, having the Giants on the road may be just where they need to be.

Let’s take a look at the opposition. Edinson Volquez will take the hill for the Pirates, having collected a 13-7 record and a 3.04 ERA in 32 games, 31 starts. While many may not have heard of the 31-year old righty, this could be a game he puts his name on the map. Volquez, like the Pirates, is coming in hot. Over six starts in August, Volquez put up an ERA of 2.11, going 3-0.

In September, he lowered that ERA by a run, collecting an additional two wins while allowing four earned over 33 1/3 innings, for an ERA of 1.08.

That all being said, the Giants have not seen the Domincan in opposition this season, but over their careers, Giants batters have some pretty solid numbers.

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Brandon Belt is 8-for-18 (.444), Buster Posey is 5-for-9 (.556) and Pablo Sandoval is 6-for-13 (.462). In an odd twist, Hunter Pence is just 7-for-36 (.194), but has taken Volquez deep three times. Brandon Belt also has a homer in his career against Volquez.

In all honesty, this game is about as close as a wild card can be. Each team can make valid arguments for why they’ll come out on top. Both teams finished with a run differential of +51 in the regular season, as well as finishing with identical 88-74 records.

For the Pirates, they’re surging, getting hot at the right time, going 17-9 in September. They have a hot pitcher on the mound, and are playing at home, where they are 51-30 this season.

For the Giants, they have their ace in Bumgarner on the mound. Aside from actual statistics however, it’s an even numbered year, and the Giants have the edge in postseason experience.

San Francisco holds the edge in bullpen ERA for the season, at 3.01 compared to the Pirates’ 3.28, good for 5th and 9th in all of baseball. If the Giants want to win this game, they’ll have to take the lead before the end of the seventh. Setup man Tony Watson (1.63) and closer Mark Melancon (1.90, 33 saves) offer a formidable challenge for any team, let alone an often run-starved Giants’ lineup.

Prediction: Honestly, I see this game as a 50/50 split. Both teams have what can been seen as advantages, and the numbers don’t offer much help one way or another. Because of their postseason experience, and success, I see the Giants pulling off a thrilling game.