Madison Bumgarner, despite my constant – verging on annoying – praise, is something of an unknown figure for most casual fans of the game. Somewhat overshadowed by Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain in San Francisco, Bumgarner is only 22 years old and yet, was judged by fWAR to be the Giants’ best pitcher last season, his first full year in the Majors.

He doesn’t have overwhelming velocity on his fastball, or a penchant for inducing a ton of ground balls. What he does have is incredible command, good movement on his pitches and an ability to use all of his pitches.

Bumgarner’s repertoire includes a four seam fastball and a sinker that both come in at around the same low to mid nineties velocity, a high eighties slider/cutter hybrid, a sweeping curve ball and a functional change up that he uses primarily against right handed batters.

By spotting his pitches and cleverly mixing his repertoire he’s able to frustrate batters and induce a ton of swinging strikes, especially with his slider/cutter. He’s also a lot of fun to watch pitch, because while he certainly has a boatload of talent, he doesn’t necessarily possess overwhelming velocity or obvious natural ability. Bumgarner is smart with his approach, and successful not only because of his physical gifts, but also craftiness.

Viewers of yesterday’s Giants game in Colorado against the Rockies were able to see this first hand with the young left hander taking a no hitter into the sixth inning. He looked absolutely phenomenal, finishing after seven and a third innings, only allowing four balls that were put in play to leave the infield.

If we look at his pitch selections for the day, we see the following:

  • 44 four seam fastballs, 90 miles per hour average;
  • 32 slider/cutters, 88 miles per hour average;
  • 19 curve balls, 76 miles per hour average;
  • 18 sinkers, 92 miles per hour average; and
  • 4 change ups, 86 miles per hour average.

That’s a great mix of pitches, and as we can see from this chart, he’s constantly varying his pitches to keep batters off guard:

Also of note is that Bumgarner threw 117 pitches yesterday. He’s only thrown more than that five times in his career, but surprisingly (and maybe not due to the sample size), his numbers are actually better than normal in starts following extended outings.

Look out, Philadelphia Phillies. He’ll see you next Tuesday.

And The Rest

In the ninth inning of yesterday’s Giants and Rockies game, San Francisco closer Brian Wilson tweaked his ankle, and was obviously suffering on the mound. The obviously beleaguered reliever didn’t exactly have much enthusiasm to put into his patentend final out celebration.

Ken Rosenthal remembers the great trade swindle of 2002. [FOX Sports]

Speaking of closers, New York Yankees shutdown artist Mariano Rivera feels as though the season hasn’t really even started. [LoHud Yankees Blog]

New York Mets third baseman David Wright can play as long as he can tolerate the pain of a fractured pinky finger. [Amazin' Avenue]

Meanwhile, the Mets are considering locking their third baseman up long term. [MLBTR]

With two out, in the top of the ninth, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Chicago Cubs starter Matt Garza would finish out his team’s 8-0 thrashing of the Milwaukee Brewers. Then, this happened, and Shawn Camp was brought in to collect the final out. Someone might be a bit too eager to promote long tossing for pitchers.

Jeff Karstens face? Jeff Karstens face! [Twitter]

The Cleveland Indians and free agent outfielder Johnny Damon have finalized their agreement. The one year contract is worth $1.25 million, but there are an additional $1.4 million worth of bonuses. [Let's Go Tribe]

According to Luke Scott of the Tampa Bay Rays, Fenway Park is a dump. According to Dustin Parkes of Getting Blanked, Luke Scott is correct. []

The reviews from our live event at Opera Bob’s on Opening Day keep coming in. [The Grid]

Finally, the St. Louis Cardinals like commercials, batting and bingo. [YouTube]