Madison Bumgarner’s fastball has lost some velocity over the past three seasons. Since averaging a career-high 93 MPH on the pitch in 2015 according to FanGraphs, the speed of Bumgarner’s heater has slowly declined. During injury plagued seasons in 2017 and 2018, Bumgarner’s average fastball hit the gun at just 91.4 MPH.
Mike Krukow joined KNBR on Tuesday morning and was asked about Bumgarner’s decreasing velocity, and whether he thought it had more to do with age or being banged up over the past few seasons. Kruk seemed to think it was a little bit of both, but expects to see an uptick in speed in 2018.
“He didn’t feel good last year,” Krukow began. “He said in September ‘I haven’t felt good all year,’ and he could say the same thing about the year before that. And you know what kind of an animal the guy is, you know he’s going to come back early when he’s not 100 percent, well he’s done it twice.
“I think the one thing that is most reflective of him coming back early twice is his velocity. He’s not a max out guy either. He’s a guy that can throw at a speed that he can get guys out at in the low 90s. You see his best velocities in two-strike counts when he reaches back, and that’s when you see his 93, 94. You don’t see many of them, but if he went out there and just tried to put a number up on the radar gun I think you could see him have his velocity back, but I don’t think that’s what he’s all about.
“And I think he’s completely ticked off at all the postseason, the offseason rhetoric that has surrounded the demise of his fastball. He has so much to prove this year, and as big and as tough mentally as he is, I think he’s going to give the Giants a great year, and hopefully more years beyond that.”
With the last year of his contract looming, Bumgarner has already been discussed as a possible trade piece ad nauseam this offseason. While it now seems more likely that’d he’d be offloaded in a midseason deal, Krukow doesn’t want to see the Giants ace going anywhere.
“I don’t want to see him ever change uniforms, I really don’t. But I think the combination of toughness, great athlete, great ability, and those guys they can make the adjustment and they can change as their career progresses. And I think this guy, when he’s done in the rotation, he can go into the bullpen like John Candelaria did and pitch till he’s in the low 40s. I think he has that type of ability.”
Listen to the full interview below. To hear Krukow on Bumgarner, start from 8:35.