SAN FRANCISCO Giants catcher Buster Posey clearly has a better view than anyone when it comes to the clubs starting pitching staff. Therefore, his analysis of Madison Bumgarners recent struggles carries the most weight.
Bumgarner fell to 0-2 this postseason after giving up six earned runs in just 3.2 innings on Sunday in Game 1 of the NLCS. His playoff ERA this postseason, including a loss to the Reds in Game 2 of the division series, has ballooned to 14.73.
So, whats the deal, Buster?
I think hes just struggling with command, Posey said. Breaking balls not getting buried in. It doesnt have quite the same finish on it. Id say thats the main thing.
Bumgarner said: Thats the way its been the past two starts. Not a whole lot of life on the ball. At the same time, youve still got to find a way to make pitches.
The 23-year-old lefty was felled on Sunday by a pair of two-run home runs by the Cards David Freeze in the second, and fan-unfavorite Carlos Beltran in the fourth. On Beltrans blast, Bumgarner hung a 2-2 slider that ended up in the left field seats. It was the last batter he faced.
His place in the postseason rotation could be in jeopardy.
He came out with good stuff, but it dropped a little bit, manager Bruce Bochy said when asked if a change to the rotation was coming. Well talk about it tonight, tomorrow, and as we get to Game 5 what we will do. But, hes one of our guys. Hes had a great year, and weve seen what this kid has done for us during the season and in the postseason. But, its something that well discuss.
While Ryan Vogelsong will start Game 2 and Matt Cain Game 3, Bochy could very well go with Tim Lincecum in Game 5, or even Game 4. Lincecum pitched two shutout innings in Game 1 in relief of Bumgarner, and Bochy said in his post-game presser that he wouldnt use Lincecum in Game 2.
For his part, Lincecum said this is as confident as hes been all season. In 8.1 innings of work this postseason, all in relief, Lincecum has allowed just one earned run, walked one and struck out nine.
I feel confident right now, just because you have to be. You cant go out there with that doubt in your mind, because every pitch is that much more crucial and that much more important.
Posey, too, sees a confident two-time Cy Young Award winner, who was bypassed for a start in the NLDS against the Reds for Bumgarner and Barry Zito.
I think thats a big thing is that he is pitching with confidence, Posey said. Hes moving the ball around on the plate, and throwing some off-speed pitches in some hitters counts, and able to keep the guys off balance. Hes done a good job.
The Giants, who are now 0-3 at AT&T Park in the playoffs, will need a strong start from Vogelsong in Game 2, especially when you consider the bullpen was forced to pitch more than five innings in Game 1.
Vogelsongs last appearance was against the Reds in Game 3 of the division series, when he surrendered one earned run in five innings in what was the first of three straight Giants wins.
We expect the same out of him as hes done all year long. Hes been great for us and we expect a lot more of the same tomorrow, Brandon Belt said. Well be ready to play defense behind him, and we know hell do just fine.
Posey said: Tomorrow is big. Im sure Vogey will be ready and Im excited for him being on the mound.
The Giants are still seeking their first quality start through six playoff games. That will have to change, sooner rather than later even though the Giants' bullpen tied a postseason LCS record with 5.1 scoreless, hitless innings in Game 1.
You certainly want a quality start from the guys, Bochy said. In these series the bullpen plays a huge role. It did for them tonight. Their pen did a great job, and ours did a great job. It makes it easier when you get a quality start.