He may be with a different team now, but Madison Bumgarner's first spring training outing of the season sure resembled a performance the four-time MLB All-Star would've put on while dawning the orange and black.
Bumgarner fanned six in two innings of work in his first appearance for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday. Sure, it's just one spring outing, but if this is any indication vintage Bumgarner is back, then the National League West just got even more interesting.
The lefty faced seven Los Angeles Angels, needing only 33 pitches to generate seven outs.
"Pretty happy with where we’re at for the first one of the spring for sure,’’ Bumgarner said to reporters after the game. “Maybe I didn’t feel as good as the line showed, but I felt pretty darn good."
"I was facing a lot of guys with not much experience off me,’’ he added. “I’m not going to get too high on it. But it definitely felt good how it went.’’
After departing the Giants for the D-backs in free agency after the 2019 season, Bumgarner's tenure in Arizona didn't start off the way anyone envisioned. In fact, it went pretty horribly.
In the condensed 2020 season, the southpaw went just 1-5 over nine starts and was tagged for a career-high 6.48 ERA over 41.2 innings. His fastball velocity also was notably down, although that partly was attributed to a lower back strain that sidelined the former Giants ace for nearly a month.
However, the 2014 World Series MVP showed promise of a turnaround in his final two starts of 2020. He didn't allow a run, scattered four hits, struck out 11 and walked only one to close out the year, showing the D-backs the level they were expecting when they signed the three-time World Series champion to a five-year, $85 million contract in December 2019.
It appears Bumgarner is carrying those efforts into the spring. If he can return to putting up numbers similar to his 2019 season, where he logged 203 strikeouts in 207 1/3 innings for the Giants, it's safe to say the D-backs rotation will be in pretty good hands.
That would hardly be good news for the Giants, though. The NL West is already packed with the Los Angeles Dodgers looking to repeat the World Series title. The revamped San Diego Padres are also a legitimate threat. The last thing San Francisco needs is to factor in their former franchise hero pushing Arizona into contention as well.