October 6, 2016
As Madison Bumgarner As You Can Get
NEW YORK -- Madison Bumgarner does not give a damn about anything.
When Conor Gillaspie hit an improbable three-run shot in the top of the ninth inning to give the Giants a 3-0 win over the Mets in the NL Wild Card Game, the left-hander calmly said: “Conor, I appreciate the hell out of that.”
He didn't scream, or raise his arms, or leap out of his seat. In a world filled with rampant emotion, he goes about his business like he’s got a pair of noise-canceling headphones on. He’s a simple man. And on Wednesday, he kept things remarkably simple.
Bumgarner rode his fastball--the same pitch that caused a stir early in the season for its decreased velocity--to a complete-game shutout victory in the winner-take-all affair. He didn’t care that his fastball, averaging under 91 mph, wasn’t as flashy as his counterpart Noah Syndergaard’s was. He hasn’t cared about it for a long time, continuing to rack up strikeouts and scoreless innings without a dominant four-seamer.
“Shows how much velocity matters,” Bumgarner quipped back in April.
The left-hander went to the four-seamer a total of 67 times--a season high. Only six times in his career had he thrown at least 67 fastballs. 26.6 percent of his 119 pitches were curveballs--a career-high. Bumgarner’s game plan was even more boring than usual: Throw up in the zone to righties, and low to left-handers. Lean on the fastball, and pepper in the curve. It worked to perfection.