Madison Bumgarner Keeps it Simple During the Playoffs


At 6’5, 235-pounds, Madison Bumgarner is an impressive figure. What he does on the mound is even more impressive.

He hasn’t allowed a run in the last 26 and 2/3 innings, a post-season MLB record. His snot rockets are the envy of the allergy-filled world. His raucous, country ways have endeared him to a loyal fan base. He’s the Mad Bum.

His Giants are knotted up at one-game-a-piece with the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS, but will look to close out the series with three straight games by the Bay.

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Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong take the bump Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, but the Cardinals are a resilient bunch, so it’s plausible we see Bumgarner toe the rubber later this week.

If he does take the mound, expect the scoreless streak to continue.

The Madison Bumgarner Way

“Mad Bum” is the league’s most talented pitcher.

He’s not a better hurler than Clayton Kershaw or Felix Hernandez, but he does possess a better overall skill set: He swings a bat like Paul Bunyan swings an axe; He throws harder as the game wears on; he’s impervious to obvious balks.

He’s baseball’s version of King Midas: whatever Mad Bum touches turns to gold.

But how has he realized such grand success at only 25-years-young?

By taking a no-nonsense approach, and attacking hitters instead of dancing around them.

May the Fastball Rule

While conducting research on Bumgarner at Brooks Baseball, it became clear early on that he throws a ton of four-seam fastballs and cutters. The two pitches account for over 80% of the pitches he’s thrown during his career.

But now that we’re in October, Bumgarner has increased the volume of fastballs while decreasing the amount of cutters. Averaging 93.84 mph on his fastball in October (a season high), Bumgarner has risen to another level, thriving off the pressure playoff baseball provides.

By scattering fastballs – changing arm angles and rubber positions throughout the game – Bumgarner is getting ahead of batters at an alarming rate in these playoffs.

To Giants’ fans, this is nothing new – Bumgarner is renowned for pounding the strike zone.

But if you analyze the data, you see there are major differences in his approach during the playoffs.

During the regular season, Bumgarner threw four-seam fastballs only 42% of the time to right-handed batters.

During the playoffs, he’s increased the volume of fastballs thrown to right-handed batters by 13%, bringing the heat over 55% of the time. You can also see that he throws the four-seam fastball on the first pitch a staggering 69% of the time, a 20% increase from the regular season.

He’s demanding the count, and why not? During the regular season, Bumgarner got batters to whiff at his fastball 28.43% of the time, the highest percentage in Major League Baseball.

Its simplicity is its beauty. By getting ahead of batters on the first pitch, Bumgarner is winning both at the plate and in the guessing game. Batters are forced to protect early in the count when facing him, and at that point, they’re as good as gone.

You know what’s coming when you step into the box against Bumgarner, and he doesn’t want it any other way.