Madison Bumgarner Keeps San Francisco Giants Afloat Through April

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The 2013 baseball season is one month old, and that provides yet another conveniently arbitrary point to take stock of performances so far. Sample sizes are larger, so the freakouts (of both the optimistic and pessimistic varieties) are slightly more justified.

One performance that San Francisco Giants fans ought to be excited about is that of Madison Bumgarner. Over five April starts, he's thrown 40 2/3 innings (4th in the NL) with a 0.84 WHIP (3rd), resulting in a 1.55 ERA (2nd). Just as I was a year too early when I picked Buster Posey for the 2011 MVP (thanks again, Scott Cousins!), early indications suggest the same for my 2012 prediction of Bumgarner for Cy Young.

Bumgarner has been the stopper for this Giants starting rotation, which has been shaky. It's not often you use that word to describe this team's pitching, so his consistent performance is really what's keeping everyone around here sane. In April, the Giants gave up 28 home runs in 27 games, 16 of them by Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong alone.

If Matt Cain (6.49 ERA) is going to pull a Lincecum this year, I don't think I'll be able to trust anyone ever again. And I'm not talking just about baseball players. I mean anyone. I'll likely just live out the rest of my life holed away, unable to compute the fact that Matt Cain is not Matt Cain. There will be times when it will be necessary to step outside, feel the sun on my face, and perhaps even interact with other members of my species. But they will be few and far between.

Life would probably be a lot easier if Cain would just quit giving up monster innings, so that's what I'm counting on. Other concerns (Vogelsong's woes, Marco Scutaro looking pretty old) are counterbalanced with some encouraging, if not surprising, performances.

Buster Posey and Brandon Belt look like they are both (slowly) righting the ship. If Sergio Romo continues his torrid and highly efficient pace (10 saves already), he'll be sure to get Cy Young votes. Pablo Sandoval continues to thwart concerns about his weight (.861 OPS). And Brandon Crawford has been a revelation.

All-Star voting begins soon, and as the Giants' third most productive player (.857 OPS despite a recent slump, plus stellar defense), Crawford will have a real shot at making the squad, especially with the notoriously effective Giants marketing machine behind him.

A 15-12 record is nothing to write home about, especially since it could be much worse. The Giants have eight comeback wins, many of them in the late innings. But those comebacks are signs of a threatening offense, and show the resiliency of a team that won six elimination games in last year's playoffs. Smart money is on the rotation positively regressing, which should put the G-men in a good spot to take the division.

Michael Meade lives in San Francisco, and has followed the Giants for 20+ years. He's contributed pieces on the Giants to various sports blogs.

You can follow Michael on Twitter @mmeade06.
Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball
View Comments