The last time we saw Madison Bumgarner in the postseason, he was closing out Game 7 of the 2014 World Series against the Kansas City Royals with a five-inning save, which gave the San Francisco Giants their third World Series title in five years.
The last time we saw Noah Syndergaard in the postseason, he threw a quality start, also against the Royals, last season in Game 3 of the World Series to help the New York Mets avoid a 3-0 hole.
These two pitchers will face off tonight and will attempt to help their respective teams advance to the NLDS where the Chicago Cubs will be awaiting their arrival at Wrigley Field.
This is a classic National League matchup.
As opposed to the American League Wild Card game, which turned into a bullpen game after the sixth inning, this game could turn into a 1-0 hard luck loss for either starting pitcher with both Syndergaard and Bumgarner going deep into the game. The participants in this game will undoubtedly go as far as the starting pitchers take them.
This was the Mets best chance at a great pitching performance in a one-game play off because, as we know, he is the last “ace” standing.
The Mets rode their dominant young rotation all the way to the Fall classic last year but this season has not been kind to the elbows and shoulders of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom or Steven Matz.
They have also been waiting for Zack Wheeler to return to their rotation since last season.
Syndergaard, or “Thor”, as we call him, is coming in hot, posting a 2.08 ERA over his final seven starts of the regular season and he is also as fresh as ever, because he has not pitched since September 27th, so he will be pitching on seven days rest.
Bumgarner has been the Giants ace for years now, and he even had help this season as he formed a formidable 1 “A” and “B” with Johnny Cueto this season.
These two pitchers actually faced off once this season, way back in early May when the Giants were a .500 team and the Mets had all of their starting pitchers at their disposal.
That seems like it was ages ago.
Anyway, Bumgarner won that matchup, pitching 6 scoreless innings while Syndergaard gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Syndergaard did get his revenge later in the season though, when he pitched 8 scoreless innings on national TV (Sunday Night Baseball) and beat the Giants in his second start against them.
Bumgarner also faced the Mets twice this season, when he pitched five innings in the first game of their four-game series in San Fran.
He gave up four runs (courtesy of a Justin Ruggian grand slam) in the fourth inning but his offense scored five runs for him in the bottom of the fourth, including a two-run HR by Bumgarner himself. The Giants scored three more runs in the fifth inning while Bumgarner was still the pitcher of record so he was able to win that start despite only going the minimum amount of innings needed to record the win.
MadBum is pitching on his regular four days of rest so nothing should be “off” about him tonight. You would think so at least.
Both of these starters have postseason experience so we know that the moment will not be too big for either one. The only question is who will give in first in this classic National League battle.
There were eight pitchers in the league that finished the regular season with an ERA under 3.00. All of them were National League pitchers, with Syndergaard (2.60) and Bumgarner (2.74) ranking third and fourth, respectively.
The Mets may have a problem if they do advance to the next round because outside of Bartolo Colon, their rotation is very shaky and unproven.
The Giants may have a problem in tonight’s game if Bumgarner cannot go deep because their bullpen has been their achilles heel since their post-All Star break slide.
In a way, it’s very fitting that these two teams face off for the right to move on because they both have glaring weaknesses that they did not think were weaknesses when the season started.
It’s also perfectly fitting that these two pitchers go at it in a very likely pitcher’s duel.
– Khristian Peel