Three starts does not a season make, even in a 60-game sprint. That said, the outlook for Madison Bumgarner appears troubling.
The now Diamondback has started three games with his new club, all three of which have ended in Arizona losses. Bumgarner has given up 12 runs while striking out 11, putting his ERA at 7.04. The worst outing took place Wednesday night, when Bumgarner gave up seven runs in 4.1 innings vs. the Astros, a performance that included three hit batters, two walks and a costly throwing error in the fourth.
Those stats don’t even include the most troubling one for the 31-year-old lefty, however. That would lie in the continued diminishment of Bumgarner’s fastball, which averaged 88.1 MPH on Tuesday night. As pointed out by MLB reporter Sarah Langs, that’s the third lowest average in a game of Bum’s career. The two outings with lower? His two prior starts this season.
It’s still very early for Bumgarner, who elected to sign with Arizona for $85 million, reportedly $15 million more than San Francisco offered this offseason. Like everybody else, Bumgarner did not have the traditional lead up to the season, the two plus months of spring training he’d grown accustomed to in his 12 prior major league seasons. But Bumgarner’s fastball has lost velocity every year, and that’s not something that typically comes back.
Bumgarner is savvy, and figured out how to get batters out without electric stuff the past few seasons in San Francisco. The question is, has his lack of velocity reached a tipping point that will mitigate his effectiveness moving forward?