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August 27, 2014

What You Need to Know

August 27, 2014

by Daniel Rathman


The Tuesday Takeaway
If you’ve pitched at any level, from Little League to high school to college to the pros, you’ve had a coach tell you to get ahead and stay ahead. Madison Bumgarner took that sage advice to heart on Tuesday night.

Facing a depleted Rockies lineup—sans Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Michael Cuddyer—Bumgarner threw 24 first-pitch strikes in 28 tries. Fifteen of the 23 plate appearances that lasted at least three pitches featured an 0-2 count. And eighty of Bumgarner’s 103 offerings either satisfied plate umpire Cory Blaser’s strike zone or elicited a swing.

The North Carolina native played old-fashioned country hardball with the visitors, and his heater was too hot to handle. Bumgarner fired 72 fastballs, earning 57 strikes, 19 of which came on swings-and-misses. While he put the “get ahead and stay ahead” mantra to full use, he eschewed a different timeless refrain.

If pitching coach Dave Righetti told Bumgarner to keep the ball down, he didn’t listen. The lower quintile of the hitting area went virtually untouched as Bumgarner challenged the Rockies with belt- and letter-high fastballs, then climbed the ladder to finish them off. That game plan worked to perfection. The only blemish on the 25-year-old’s line came when he strayed from it:

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