Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Madison Bumgarner
- Be cautious with backing Madison Bumgarner, who’s still knocking off some rust in his return from injury.
- Dodgers starter Alex Wood has a sub-3.00 ERA, but that’ll be hard for him to maintain with how many hard-hit balls he’s allowing.
Baseball is better when Madison Bumgarner is healthy and pitching — especially against the Dodgers. The reason? His past feuds with Yasiel Puig. If you’re not familiar with their personal history, let’s take a stroll down memory lane.
It really started back in May 2014 on a Puig home run off of Bumgarner. He flipped his bat, which Bum did not appreciate and the two exchanged words around the bases.
Things really boiled over later in the 2014 season, as Puig charged the mound after barely dodging a HBP — which led to both benches clearing out.
And if you liked to watch those benches clear, fast forward to two years later when a Puig ground ball led to another explosion and cleared benches.
If you watch any baseball today, make sure you tune in for the Puig (assuming he plays) at-bats. Let’s take a closer look at the matchup tonight from a betting and fantasy perspective.
San Francisco Giants (+131) at Los Angeles Dodgers (-145) | O/U: 7.5
Madison Bumgarner (0-1, 4.76 ERA) vs. Alex Wood (1-5, 4.43 ERA)
8:15 p.m. ET
Not Impressed: I expected to see more swings and misses and at least a slight increase in velocity in Bumgarner’s second start of the season, against a poor Miami lineup on Monday. He did neither. Bumgarner didn’t allow a hit over the first three innings, but then it all fell apart when several hard-hit balls turned into extra-base hits. The Marlins ended up making contact with over 95% of the pitches in the strike zone. Bumgarner also had trouble keeping the ball on the ground, with just 30% of batted balls being grounders. I don’t think anyone would argue that the former World Series MVP has made a full return to form, and until that happens I’ll have trouble betting on him barring a real favorable spot. — Mark Gallant
Good Wood: Wood is not the man he was last year, either. This season, his opponents’ exit velocity has consistently been in the mid-90s. No bueno. He ranks toward the top of the league in hard-hit percentage and toward the bottom in soft-hit percentage. Despite walking fewer batters and owning a slightly lower xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching) than in 2017, it’s tough to maintain a sub-3.00 ERA if you constantly allow hard contact. With both starters currently off their games, the over 7.5 looks tantalizing. — Mark Gallant
Southpaw Slayer: Whether you believe in batter vs. pitcher data or not, it’s definitely worth noting Kike Hernandez’s career splits against MadBum. He’s 14-30 (.466) with five doubles and three homers off the Giants’ ace. Hernandez is much, much better against lefties regardless of pitcher. In his career, Kike has a 130 wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) vs. southpaws — compared to just 67 vs. righties. This isn’t exactly a secret, though, as his ownership is about 2.5 times higher against left-handed starters on DraftKings. — Mark Gallant
Consider Cody: Another hitter to consider: Cody Bellinger, who comes into the series with a scorching hot bat over his past nine games. He’s posted an average distance of 260 feet, exit velocity of 94 mph and hard-hit rate of 47%. Each of those metrics represent an increase compared to his 12-month averages. He likely won’t garner much interest in a lefty-lefty matchup vs. Bumgarner, but Bellinger has still managed a .350 wOBA (Weighted On-Base Average) and .268 ISO (Isolated Power) against southpaws over the past 12 months. He has upside against a pitcher who has struggled to miss bats this season. — Matt LaMarca
Familiar Foes: Bumgarner will make his second start against a divisional opponent this season. In his career, the under is 64-45-4 (58.7%) when Bumgarner faces a divisional opponent, including 8-2-1 over the past two seasons — going under by an average of 2.7 runs per game. Against non-divisional opponents, the under is just 57-55-7 in Bumgarner starts. — Evan Abrams
Bum Rap: Over the past two seasons, the Giants are an unbelievable 4-15 when Bumgarner starts, losing bettors 11 units in those 19 games. Since the start of 2017, Bumgarner is one of only eight starters that have lost bettors at least 10 units. Cover your eyes, Giants fans — three of those eight starters have pitched for San Francisco (Bumgarner, Matt Moore and Jeff Samardzija). — Evan Abrams