Photo credit: SF Examiner
Madison Bumgarner once dated a girl named Madison Bumgarner.
Later on in life, he would go on to win three World Series titles and become one of the most dominant postseason pitchers of all-time. He’s already faced the Cubs twice this year, a team with a stranglehold on the Division Series with a 2-0 lead as they head to AT&T Park for tonight’s Game 3 and a potential Game 4. He blanked the Cubs in 7 2/3 innings at home in a May start and allowed five hits and two earned runs over six innings at Wrigley Field.
Nowadays, Bumgarner is on a 23-inning scoreless playoff streak, while most recently throwing a complete game shutout in the Wild Card game versus the Mets.
This guy is really damn good, guys, but guess what? While Jake Arrieta complimented the Giants’ long-time ace, he also labeled him “beatable.”
To be honest, I agree with him. Part of Bumgarner’s game is psychological at this point. He’s almost like a black cat. If he shows up, it’s bad news for the opponent. He even pinch-hit in Game 2 and somehow still got to second base.
What the Cubs have done all year is work the count. They are patient hitters that take their walks when the opportunities present themselves. It is an approach at the plate uncommon for most playoff clubs, who often times get anxious and aggressive at the plate, and especially for a team as youthful as the Cubs. At the very least, the Cubs can hope this approach gets Bumgarner out of the game earlier than expected and face a leaky Giants bullpen.
However, the Cubs will not win this game without a strong performance from Arrieta.
Arrieta has fared about as well versus San Francisco as Bumgarner has versus Chicago. In May, he lasted seven, allowing one earned run on the road and also allowed only two earned runs over six innings in a head-to-head tilt versus Bumgarner.
You know that guy is pissed off. All series long, the guy has had to sit there hearing how the Cubs don’t want to split or be in a 0-2 hole with Bumgarner looming. He’s also been hearing about his inconsistencies on the mound and which guy is going to show up to face Bumgarner in Game 3.
It’d be a safe bet tonight to see Arrieta focused with a right-handed-heavy lineup with a patient approach. The Cubs would highly benefit from Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell getting going in the playoffs. Each have looked sluggish at the plate in the first two games, each failing to record a hit. It’s very possible Jason Heyward checks out of the lineup in favor of a righty such as Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr., or Jorge Soler depending on the catcher situation this evening.
Should be a doozy tonight in the Bay Area.