Giants

Who came closest to matching Bumgarner's 2014 postseason?

Who came closest to matching Bumgarner's 2014 postseason?

SAN FRANCISCO — Two years ago, as they drenched the visiting clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium in champagne and beer, Giants players and coaches gushed about Madison Bumgarner doing something we’ll never see again. They’re probably right, but as it turns out, Bumgarner himself was sort of on the path to pulling another Bumgarner.

He matched his Wild Card shutout and then gave up seven hits and three runs over five innings in his lone NLDS start, pretty similar to his seven-inning, three-run performance against the Nationals two years prior. Bumgarner likely would have backed Johnny Cueto in a Game 5, putting himself on pace for another heavy October workload.

Of course, the bullpen couldn’t get the Giants back to Chicago. The big lefty ended up throwing just 14 innings, leaving the postseason stage for other aces. Who came closest to matching his 2014 feat? To find the top candidates, all you have to do is look at a historic Game 7 that had a little bit of everything. 

It might be a while before we see another pitcher come as close to Bumgarner’s relief performance as Jon Lester did Wednesday night. The World Series champ threw 55 pitches over three relief innings, getting the ball from Kyle Hendricks to Aroldis Chapman. Lester ended up leading the postseason with 35 2/3 innings and he had a 2.02 ERA across six appearances.

Indians starter Corey Kluber, who made three World Series starts, was right behind Lester at 34 1/3 postseason innings. He put up a 1.83 ERA for a team that had a similar issue to the 2014 Giants. That team needed Bumgarner to do so much because of ineffectiveness from the rest of an aging and fatigued rotation. The Indians needed every bit of Kluber’s magic because of injuries to starters Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. (Incredibly, they also did all of this without Michael Brantley, who finished third in the MVP voting two seasons ago.)

Lester and Kluber were brilliant, but neither got particularly close to Bumgarner’s 52 2/3 innings from 2014. To be fair, neither World Series team needed to get through the nine innings of a Wild Card Game. Lester and Kluber were also held back in part by the mechanics of a postseason that was unlike anything we've seen in recent years. This was the year of the bullpen, with star relievers carrying heavy loads. Six relievers pitched at least 10 postseason innings, including Kenley Jansen, who made himself millions as a multi-inning weapon, and Cody Allen, who was quietly dominant and saved six of Cleveland’s 10 wins. 

Two former Yankees led the way. Andrew Miller pitched 19 1/3 innings over 10 appearances, striking out 30. Aroldis Chapman threw 97 pitches in the final three games of the World Series, and he pitched 2 2/3 innings in a season-saving Game 5 win that showed how teams in 2016 most closely replicated Bumgarner's 2014. For the most part, it was a tag team effort … 

Kluber + Miller: 53 2/3 innings, 10 earned runs
Lester + Chapman: 51 1/3 innings, 14 earned runs
Bumgarner in 2014: 52 2/3 innings, 6 earned runs

Yeah … we’ll never see that again, but with the way the Giants are currently built, they won’t need another one-man show. The front office learned from that experience and spent the next two years chasing aces who could line up behind Bumgarner, including Lester, who got a home visit from Bruce Bochy, Buster Posey and others late in 2014 but chose the Cubs, where he could be part of such a historic moment. 

That push eventually formed a roster that planned to get through October a different way. Only three pitchers threw more than 110 pitches in a postseason start this season: Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore. In a year where relievers stole the headlines, it wasn't enough. 

Bobby Evans dismissal hard to swallow for Giants clubhouse

Bobby Evans dismissal hard to swallow for Giants clubhouse

SAN FRANCISCO — About 20 minutes before players took the field for batting practice on Monday, the man who signed so many of them got in a car and headed home to tell his family he was no longer the general manager of the Giants. 

Ownership relieved Bobby Evans of his duties in the afternoon. Hopefully an executive who lived and breathed Giants for 25 years took a night off from watching them. The team lost 5-0 to the Padres, nearly getting shut out by Bryan Mitchell, who entered with an ERA that started with a six. 

Before the game, manager Bruce Bochy met with Evans one final time.

“I thanked him for all his help. Bobby and I spent even more time together the last couple of years but he’s always been around and been helpful,” Bochy said. “Twenty-five years here, that shows you the continuity we have in San Francisco. He did a lot for the organization. I was glad I had a chance to talk to him before he left.”

There have been rumors for weeks, and when strength coach Carl Kochan was let go, the clubhouse became all too aware that two poor seasons on the field would lead to plenty of changes. Still, this was hard for some to swallow. 

Evans put this team together and believed in the group, and his fingerprints are all over the roster. He negotiated with free agents like Mark Melancon and Tony Watson, signed non-roster invitees like Dereck Rodriguez and Derek Holland and traded for players like Will Smith and Sam Dyson. When Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and others got their extensions, Evans was the point man on the other side. When young players were called up this season, Evans was often on the other end of the first call they received. 

“Obviously something like that is part of the business side of baseball, but it kind of sucks that somebody like Bobby or somebody behind the scenes like Carl loses his job because we didn’t perform on the field,” Crawford said. “That’s always tough.”

The Giants have now let go of their strength coach and general manager this month. More changes are expected. 

“Change is tough,” Bochy said. “You have relationships with everybody. It’s that time of year.” 

Giants shut out against Padres to kick off season's final homestand

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USATSI

Giants shut out against Padres to kick off season's final homestand

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO  — Bryan Mitchell struck out seven in 8 2/3 strong innings, Jose Pirela had a homer among his three hits, and the San Diego Padres defeated the San Francisco Giants 5-0 Monday night.

The Giants lost their fifth straight game hours after the team announced the dismissal of general manager Bobby Evans. The move comes amid a Giants team freefall.

San Francisco is four years removed from winning their fourth World Series championship in five years, and in the last week of its second consecutive losing season.

The Giants are 4-17 in September, and 166-225 since taking a 53-73 record (best in the majors at the time) into the 2016 All-Star break.

Mitchell (2-4) walked just three in what was by far his best start of an uneven season that included a stint on the DL with right elbow impingement.

In his last start on Sept. 17, he gave up four runs in five innings in a 4-2 loss to the Giants.

The 27-year-old right-hander came to the Padres in an offseason trade with the New York Yankees that also brought Chase Headley.

Mitchell had never thrown a complete game in his 19 previous career starts. He’d walked 40 in 64 1/3 innings going into Monday.

Mitchell was within a pitch of what would have been his first career complete game, let alone a shutout.

But with two on and two out in the ninth, Mitchell walked Gorkys Hernandez on his 118th pitch.

Andy Green then summoned Kirby Yates, who struck Austin Slater for the final out.

Jose Pirela homered off Giants starter Derek Holland (7-9) to lead off the fourth. His fourth homer gave the Padres a 3-0 lead.

Pirela has 26 hits and 13 RBI in his career against the Giants, more than against any other team.

Franmil Reyes had two hits and two RBI, and Wil Myers had two hits and two runs scored.

Francia Mejia doubled with one out in the top of the second and scored the game’s first run on Manual Margot’s single.

Reyes singled in a run in the third and Hunter Renfroe singled in a run in a two-run sixth inning off Ty Blach.

Holland gave up three runs on eight hits and two walks in five innings.

DIALED IN

The Padres have 19 home runs and 171 hits at AT&T Park since the start of 2017, more than any other visiting team over that stretch.

UP NEXT

LHP Robbie Erlin (4-7, 4.33 ERA) is 1-3 with a 5.64 ERA in eight appearances (five starts) against San Francisco. RHP Chris Stratton (10-10, 4.88) is 2-3 with a 4.70 ERA in five games (four starts) against San Diego.