Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Could Madison Bumgarner Rebound In 2020 Or Should We Write Him Off?

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We had questions about Madison Bumgarner when he landed in Arizona, and those concerns came to fruition. Sure part of the problem was injury, as the veteran only made 9 starts (41.2 IP), but that wasn’t the only issue.

First, here’s what we said in our 2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide:

Healthy for a full season for the first time since 2016, Bumgarner wasn’t quite the ace we’d become accustomed to as he pitched to a 3.90 ERA over 207.2 IP. While you can point towards a 71.8% strand rate as the problem, he continued to watch his Hard% rise every year since 2013 (25.8% in ’13 all the way to 43.8% in ’19). He also struggled to generate groundballs (35.8%), creating what could be a scary combination for a pitcher moving to a less pitcher friendly ballpark. As it is Bumgarner owned a 2.93 ERA at home in ’19, compared to a 5.29 on the road (where he allowed 15 HR over 85.0 IP) including a 5.95 ERA in Chase Field over 12.0 IP (and he allowed 2 HR). We all know he’s not the pitcher he once was, and he’s not a name that should be high on your rankings.

We noted two key potential issues:

  1. Rising Hard%
  2. Potential home run issues

The first question continued to be an issue, as he saw his Hard% rise again slightly (44.0%). That alone would be a concern, but he also posted a 2.81 HR/9. While that is an unrealistic mark overall, it shows the problems being burned both at home (2.51 HR/9) and on the road (2.96 HR/9).

Those two issues alone would make him a concern, as we’ve already noted, but he also saw his velocity fall off a cliff as he averaged 88.4 mph on his fastball (down from 91.4). Maybe the injuries were part of the problem, but it also may not be the only thing. If the velocity is going to stay down, can we count on his strikeout rate rebounding?

His 7.5% SwStr% was a career worst. Without that, coupled with the home runs and hard hit balls, the results simply will never be there. Could he recover and become a viable option once again? Perhaps, but it also is hardly a given. As a late round pick he’s worth rolling the dice on, but he’s nothing more than that. Don’t make the mistake of paying for the name.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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