Madison Bumgarner looks like his old self of late, turning back the clock with a dominating run of pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
His latest chance to show he’s still an elite ace comes Monday when the Diamondbacks open a four-game series on the road against the veteran’s old nemesis, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In 37 appearances (36 starts) against the Dodgers, mostly as a member of the San Francisco Giants, the 31-year-old is 15-14 with a 2.74 ERA in 230 1/3 innings.
After a brutal start to the season — Bumgarner had an 11.20 ERA through three outings — the left-hander (4-2, 4.12 ERA) has rebounded by going 4-0 with a 0.90 ERA over his last five starts, including a scoreless seven innings against the Marlins on Tuesday.
According to Stathead from baseballreference.com, Bumgarner is the first pitcher in baseball history with an ERA under 1.00, a WHIP under 0.470 and at least 30 strikeouts in any five-start span. They would be any five-start span from a pitcher … ever.
Bumgarner has done it by showing a slight uptick in velocity over his last five starts, which has translated into more movement with his cut fastball.
“What I’m doing now kind of frees me up and I can definitely tell,” Bumgarner said after his last outing. “There’s a lot more conviction in my pitches, I know that for sure.”
The eight-time defending National League West champion Dodgers will return to division play a much different team than when they last left it.
When the Dodgers last played a division team, they were ambushed by the upstart San Diego Padres, losing three times in a four-game home series. Starting with an April 22 loss to the Padres, the Dodgers went 4-13 in games mostly against the NL Central and the AL West.
They appear to be back on track but dropped a 3-2 decision to the Miami Marlins on Sunday to end a four-game winning streak. Los Angeles did win its second consecutive series after not posting a series victory in each of their previous six tries.
While they are back on a winning trend, injuries are a factor.
Cody Bellinger (leg) remains out since the opening road trip of the season and Corey Seager will be lost for an extended period after he was hit by a pitch Saturday and fractured his right hand.
Also on the injured list are outfielder AJ Pollock (hamstring), utility man Zach McKinstry (oblique), corner infielder Edwin Rios (shoulder) and right-handed starter Dustin May (oblique), along with key relievers David Price (hamstring), Corey Knebel (lat) and Brustar Graterol (forearm).
Price is expected back Monday, when the Dodgers are set to make the signing of veteran Albert Pujols official.
“Obviously we want to play at full strength but I think the guys we have now are plenty good enough to win games,” the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts said. “I think we’ve done all right. We just have to get everyone healthy and do what we can until then. But the guys we have right now are plenty good enough to win ballgames.”
The Dodgers will send right-hander Walker Buehler (1-0, 3.45 ERA) to the mound Monday. In eight career starts against the Diamondbacks, he is 1-0 with a 2.86 ERA and has 50 strikeouts in 44 innings.
–Field Level Media