Royals Tug The Heart,
But Giants Have The Arm
Regardless Of The Great, Cinderella Story That Is The Kansas City Royals, The San Francisco Giants Have Madison Bumgarner On Their Side And He Just Might Be The Hurler That Defines The Dynasty
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
Oct. 28, 2014 — I want the Kansas City Royals to win the World Series. I really do. The team is such a great story for an altogether great fanbase that deserves to finally win another title.
And the Giants? Don’t get me started. The team is on the verge of winning its third championship in five years. Some would call that a dynasty. And, dynasties aren’t fun for anyone, except the fans of that team. It’s why the Yankees were such a fun team to hate a decade or so ago. Because no one, outside of the team’s fans, wants to see any team play that good for that long.
The problem is, the Giants are going to win the World Series for one reason and one reason only: Madison Bumgarner.
Even if the Royals win Game 6, odds are they’re going to have to face Bumgarner in Game 7 whether it be in relief or as the starter.
Whether it’s a Lincecum, a Cain or a Bumgarner, San Francisco always seems to have at least one ace up its sleeve. What’s scary for the Royals is, when it comes to the postseason, Bumgarner is the best ace the Giants have had in quite some time.
To put it simply, the Giants ace has been unstoppable. Not just this postseason, but every postseason. In 13 total career postseason games, he is 7-3 with a 2.27 ERA.
Even more impressively, his best numbers have come in the World Series. This is already the young southpaw’s third World Series. So far, he’s 4-0 with a 0.29 ERA. That gives him the lowest ERA in World Series history for pitchers with over 20 innings pitched.
Stop to consider how monumental that is. Of all the greats to make multiple postseason appearances ― Koufax, Mathewson and Rivera come to mind ― Bumgarner has allowed the fewest runs per nine. And, he’s only 26.
Not that we should be surprised. Bumgarner hasn’t exactly been a slouch during the regular season, but his postseason success is on another level.
No one will call Bumgarner the best pitcher in baseball. That title unequivocally goes to the Dodger’s Clayton Kershaw. But, Kershaw hasn’t shown an ability to compete in the postseason. Bumgarner, on the other hand, actually gets better in October.
Obviously, Bumgarner’s greatest effect is on opposing batters. He shuts them down and they score less runs and the Giants win.
Simple. For him, it seems.
But, he affects the game in so many more ways.
He takes almost all of the pressure off his offense. When Bumgarner is pitching in the World Series, his team is virtually guaranteed a win as long as it can push across one run.
Just one run.
That takes an enormous load off of the hitters’ shoulders. All they have to do is play small ball, run smart on the basepaths, and wait for the chance to bunt, hit and run or sac fly the team to just one run.
That’s a benefit the Royals just don’t have. No pitcher on the Royals staff has delivered anything close to Bumgarner’s collective performance. The Royals know that can reasonably expect they’re going to have to score at least three or four runs to win a game. That kind of pressure can throw hitters off of their game, because they’re pressing in the box.
If that wasn’t bad enough, they’re facing Bumgarner, so the odds of scoring just one run aren’t that good anyway. He decimates the opposing team on all levels. The Royals are a team that benefits from speed and taking risks on the basepaths.
But, with a pitcher like Bumgarner on the mound, the team simply can’t take the chance of losing a rare baserunner by stealing or fighting for the extra base. Bumgarner literally destroys the Royals game plan. In two games against him this World Series, the Royals have yet to attempt a steal after leading the league in steals during the regular season.
While manager Ned Yost has been a revelation this year for the Royals, I don’t think he has it in him as a coach to start from scratch and create a gameplan to beat Bumgarner in the last game of the season when no one else has figured it out yet.
And, that’s why I don’t think the Royals have a chance to win the World Series. Because Bumgarner is an unstoppable force and Kansas City isn’t quite an immoveable object.
Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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