A closer doesn’t usually appear for more than one or two innings at a time. But Madison Bumgarner isn’t everyone, and not your typical relief pitcher. The San Francisco Giants didn’t win the World Series for a third time in five years just because of him, but they wouldn’t have won game 7 and other games without him.
Bumgarner appeared in 21 innings for the Giants in this World Series, giving up just one run. He is only the sixth pitcher history with two wins on over 20 innings with a sub 0.50 ERA, joining Sandy Koufax, Harry Brecheen, Carl Hubbell, Waite Hoyt, Christy Mathewson. Not just his historic numbers were impressive. The way he stacked up compared to the other Giants pitchers in this world series is staggering in his favor, making him look even better.
The other five starting appearances mounted up to only 16.1 innings, allowing a .351 batting average and a 9.92 ERA. Bumgarner? He had 16 innings as a starter, allowing only .127 batting average and a 0.56 ERA. Tim Hudson did terribly in only 1.2 innings and the Giants didn’t have any patience to try and let him escape from the bad start he had. With only one game left, despite the work Bumgarner has already done in this postseason, it would have been foolish not to use him.
Bruce Bochy has now won three World Series titles as the manager of the Giants. He was the one who made the big decision to keep Bumgarner out of one of the games and let Ryan Vogelsong start for him, something that didn’t work out too well. It did give the Giants a chance to rest him up before a fantastic complete game from Bumgarner, maybe the best pitching performance we’ve seen from him in this postseason.
That goes along with his one win he has in the 2012 World Series, starting against the Detroit Tigers. He allowed only two hits in seven innings and striking out 8. That was just a taste of how good he can be with a bigger role. The Giants had to wait two years to see it from him again.
There are other big heroes in this World Series victory, like Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval and obviously Michael Morse, hitting the RBI single in the fourth inning to put the Giants in the lead for good against the Kansas City Royals, who felt like a team of destiny this offseason. But Bumgarner stood in the way of that destiny. He also set himself apart from everyone else who appeared in this postseason, and put his name in a very distinguished place among the best performers in the history of Baseball playoffs.