The 2013 San Francisco Giants have had their share of ups, but more often than not, their downs. This year has been a far cry from the magical 2012 season that culminated in a World Series Championship. Prior to the Sunday finale against the Colorado Rockies, the Giants had lost a season high six straight games. This has been the club’s longest losing streak since 2010.
Saturday saw Matt Cain throw a gem, pitching eight innings of one run ball. This was the second contest of the Giants’ three-game series in Colorado. After a heartbreaking ninth inning, in which the Rockies walked off for the win, the Giants found themselves staring at a seventh straight road loss. This demoralizing loss put the defending champions at a season-worst 38-42 record.
Sunday saw youngster Madison Bumgarner on the mound, attempting to salvage the series finale. His team desperately needed a quality start to stop the bleeding. Flashing his ace potential, Bumgarner gave the Giants exactly what the club needed. Lowering his season ERA to 3.08, the lefty went seven innings while giving up only one earned run. The Giants won 5-2, avoiding the sweep against their division rivals.
Bumgarner is an unquestionable fixture in the Giants future. His deception, velocity, and pitching arsenal are one of a kind. The league has seen flashes of his ace potential, especially in the 2010 playoffs. A mid-season call up in 2010, Bumgarner went 7-6 with an impressive 3.00 ERA and a 2.3 WAR. These numbers are certainly impressive, but the work he put in the playoffs is truly noteworthy.
As a 21 year-old rookie, Bumgarner ran with the spotlight on baseball’s biggest stage and pitched the game of a lifetime. The southpaw scattered three hits over eight innings against the Texas Rangers in game four of the World Series. It was complete and utter domination that all but ensured the Giants a World Series victory. Bumgarner was here to stay and now the rest of the league knew it.
With Cain and the rest of the pitching staff struggling this season, Bumgarner has stepped up as the club’s ace. After a red-hot April that saw him win three games with a 1.55 ERA, Bumgarner cooled off. His numbers in May were below league average, going 1-3 with a bloated 5.17 ERA. It was uncertain whether he would bounce back or continue to struggle.
Bumgarner proved his critics wrong by responding with a comeback in June. After a rough start against the Saint Louis Cardinals, the 23-year-old has gone 4-1 with a 2.18 ERA in his last five starts. This has proved vital for a Giants team starved of wins.
The Giants need a starting pitcher to step up and provide consistency to a rotation currently in flux. Bumgarner has a golden opportunity to be this player. This could be the point in time when Bumgarner cements his future as an ace in the MLB.