His work might have been overshadowed last night by Yu Darvish’s near perfect game, and because of that it deserves to have a little more attention.
Bumgarner cruised through eight innings, giving up just a pair of doubles, walking none and striking out six. He was a model of efficiency — his most labored inning was the eighth, and even then he was able to get his three outs with fewer than 20 pitches.
What made this start all the more special was that it allowed Giants fans to quit holding their breath and stop worrying about the mechanical issues that plagued him at the end of last season. After an offseason spent building his strength, followed by spending Spring Training working on his mechanics with Dave Righetti, it all paid off last night.
His fastball had good life. According to Pitch f/x he spent most of the game in the 91-92 mph range and by the looks of things it seemed to have some good movement. His slider was in the 87-89 mph range and was his true out pitch, generating nearly half of his swing through strikes and 11 of his 24 outs.
All of that is great, but the most encouraging take away from all of this was his release point.
The tight cluster says in the graph says it all — last night his release point was incredibly consistent. When he is right his graph looks like the one above. When he isn’t … it looks like this one from September of last year:
When he has a consistent release point he can pound the strike zone and get ahead of hitters. Last night 75% of Bumgarner’s pitches were strikes and he threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of 26 batters that he faced.
Last night was a great sign that the work he did in the offseason paid off. My mind is able to rest at ease, knowing that whatever mechanical/fatigue issues that were bugging him last year seem to be fixed and a thing of the past. Now he can continue on his path to becoming one of the best pitchers in baseball.