The beginning of Madison Bumgarner’s Arizona Diamondbacks career has been an underwhelming one, and now the pitcher is headed to the injured list.
The Diamondbacks announced Monday that Bumgarner has been placed on the IL, citing a mid-back strain. He was removed from Sunday’s start against the San Diego Padres after just two innings due to what was referred to as back spasms at the time.
This may offer an explanation for Bumgarner’s struggles this season, particularly in his last two starts. He gave up seven earned runs in 4.1 innings against the Houston Astros on Aug. 4, and was then tagged for six earned runs and four home runs in just two innings against San Diego. Bumgarner’s fastball velocity has been down significantly as well, averaging a career-worst 87.8 MPH according to Fangraphs. That’s a significant drop from the 91.4 mph average fastball he flashed last season with the San Francisco Giants. In total, he’s 0-3 with a 9.35 ERA in four starts.
Madison Bumgarner has long been one of the best hitting pitchers in MLB, and someone who takes pride in that reputation. With the introduction of the universal DH for 2020, however, the Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher’s hitting days may be over.
With speculation that the DH could remain in the National League even after the sport has returned to normal, it’s possible that we’ve already seen the last of pitchers hitting. Bumgarner certainly didn’t seem happy with the rule change, but admitted there was nothing he could really do about it.
#Dbacks Madison Bumgarner on the universal DH: "Obviously my thoughts don’t really matter on that deal (laughs). I do what I’m told. I’ll sit there and pitch and that’s it for now. I think that’s obviously where everybody wants the game to go so it is what it is."
For now, the NL will go back to its normal rules in 2021. However, considering there was growing momentum toward a universal DH even before the sport was forced into its 2020 rule changes, one has to wonder if we’ve seen the last of pitchers hitting. Bumgarner clearly seems to hope not, but it’s not up to him.
The Arizona Diamondbacks don’t sound particularly enthralled with Madison Bumgarner’s secret rodeo career.
Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen admitted Monday that the team had no idea Bumgarner had used the alias Mason Saunders to secretly compete in professional rodeo events, but the team does believe the pitcher has not done so since signing with Arizona.
Arizona #Dbacks GM Mike Hazen says he was unaware of Madison Bumgarner participating in rodeo events in his spare time during his days with the #SFGiants when signing him, and believes it hasn't occurred since signing with the Dbacks after reading the Athletic story.
As funny as the story about Bumgarner’s well-honed alias is, it does open up a bit of a can of worms from a contractual perspective. This is not the sort of thing the Diamondbacks would like to see Bumgarner doing, and it’s normal for contracts to include language prohibiting players from taking part in potentially dangerous activities. It may be true that Bumgarner hasn’t taken part in any rodeos since signing, but there’s no guarantee he won’t over the course of his contract, and it’s not clear if the Diamondbacks will know or what they’ll do about it.
Madison Bumgarner is well-known as a three-time World Series champion and elite postseason pitcher. He’s also known as a regular rodeo participant, albeit under a different name.
After a bit of research, Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan of The Athletic deduced that Bumgarner, now with the Arizona Diamondbacks, participates in various rodeo events under the alias Mason Saunders. Bumgarner even won $26,560 in a team-roping competition last December, and his picture is posted on the venue’s Facebook page.
Bumgarner owned up to the hobby, and admitted that he may have won other events under the alias. The name is derived from a shortened version of his first name and his wife’s maiden name, and he uses it because he does not want to attract outside attention while competing.
And yes, Bumgarner is serious about those competitions.
“No matter what hobbies I have, I take ’em serious,” Bumgarner said. “That’s just my personality. I don’t do anything just for fun, per se. I wish I did.”
The Diamondbacks would not divulge whether Bumgarner’s rodeo habit was a breach of his contractual language. It was not a total secret that he participated, as he’d divulged it in a 2016 interview while with the San Francisco Giants. As long as the pitcher is a little more careful with that hobby than he was with his dirt biking, the Diamondbacks will probably be able to get over it.
The Diamondbacks had a need for an ace after trading Zack Greinke to the Houston Astros last season, which explains their interest in Bumgarner. But the move seems somewhat odd for a team that didn’t seem to be committed to spending money to win.
Why trade Paul Goldschmidt and Greinke only to spend on Bumgarner? It doesn’t make much sense.
Bumgarner is 30 and has already pitched 1,846 career regular season innings and 102.1 postseason innings. He made 34 starts last season but posted a 3.90 ERA — the worst of his career. His stuff seems good and his fastball velocity was fine, so a return to form seems like it could still happen. Plus, Arizona knows Bumgarner has a history of success pitching in the NL West.
Bumgarner is coming off a season in which he posted a career-worst 3.90 ERA, but he’s known as one of the best playoff pitchers of his generation. For a team like the Dodgers, that may be more than any regular season contribution.
Dodgers fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt:
The Los Angeles Angels made a big free agent signing on Wednesday night, and they aren’t done yet this offseason.
The Angels reached agreement on a 7-year, $245 million deal with third baseman Anthony Rendon. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi says the Angels are also looking to add a pitcher. He says Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Dallas Keuchel are among the pitchers they’re looking to sign. Colorado Rockies starter Jon Gray is also a pitcher they’ve sought in a trade.
Source: #Angels still planning to add a significant starting pitcher. They’re pursuing Bumgarner, Ryu or Keuchel in free agency or #Rockies RHP Jon Gray (among others) on trade market. @MLBNetwork@MLB
The Angels missed out on Gerrit Cole, as they and the Dodgers came behind the Yankees in the sweepstakes for the ace. Stephen Strasburg re-signed with the Nationals, and the Phillies added Zack Wheeler. The Dodgers and Angels still have an interest in improving their pitching and are both said to be looking at Bumgarner.
Ryu led the league with a 2.32 ERA last season for the Dodgers and was second in NL Cy Young voting. He’s 32 though and has a significant injury history, which may cause teams pause in signing him for big money.
The Angels have Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning and just traded for Dylan Bundy. They’re hoping to have Shohei Ohtani return from Tommy John surgery. They need some more pitchers who can slot in at the top of the rotation.