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Over the course of his nine years in the major leagues, Madison Bumgarner has grown accustomed to winning. Even as a 21-year-old in 2010, Bumgarner was pitching lights-out baseball during the postseason and that continued on through the Giants’ three championship runs over the next five years.
Yet, all good things must come to an end and as if being turned down in defeat in the 2016 playoffs wasn’t bad enough, it was followed up by the first serious injury of Bumgarner’s career. There were plenty of factors that played a role in the team’s horrendous 2017 season, but Bumgarner’s injury arguably struck the hardest blow to not only the Giants’ season, but also the pitcher’s mindset.
As former major league pitcher of 14 years, Mike Krukow spoke on the impact an injury has on a player, such as Bumgarner, with Murph & Mac on Thursday morning.
“I also think that when you go through a reality check because of an injury or trade, it makes you grow up as a player. It does,” Krukow said. “You realize that you’re not invincible. The other thing that happens when a player gets hurt, he loses his voice in the clubhouse and that’s never happened to [Bumgarner]. You’re the guy that kind of keeps everything in check, especially when you lose.”
When Bumgarner wasn’t leading the Giants to World Series after World Series, he epitomized the ideal starting pitcher. From 2011-2016, he averaged 213 innings pitched and 32 starts per season. During that span of time, Bumgarner averaged a 16-10 record with a 3.00 ERA and was a two-time 18-game winner.
However, that workload came to a screeching halt last season, when Bumgarner’s dirt biking accident kept him to only 17 and 111 innings.
“He went through a massive culture shock last year with that injury,” Krukow said. “The way that he wears it, the way that he wore it, the fact that he felt like he let the team down. I think that with the reality that and you lose that cloak of invincibility, you grow up a little bit and I think that happened to him last year. I think you’re seeing a different Bumgarner. I think you’ll always see a different Bumgarner because of that injury, that’s how severe it was for him.”
To listen to the full interview check out the podcast below, and skip to 4:58 for Krukow on Bumgarner.