Giants' Bumgarner eager to bounce back in Game 1 of NLCS

Lost amongst the euphoria of the Giants’ 2010 World Series championship was Madison Bumgarner’s stellar performance.

Having already logged 193²?³ innings between Triple-A and the majors, there was no thought of shutting the rookie down to protect his valuable left arm for the future. All he did in the postseason was post a 2-0 record with a 2.18 ERA in four games (three starts), walking five and striking out 18 in 20²?³ innings.

As a cherry on top of everything else, his final outing may have been his best. Bumgarner pitched eight shutout innings in Game 4, giving the Giants a 3-1 edge over the Texas Rangers.

Today, he makes his most noteworthy start since that Halloween night, getting the assignment for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series in a matchup of the last two World Series winners. The Cardinals will send right-hander Lance Lynn to the mound.

With Matt Cain’s emergence as the Giants’ ace and Tim Lincecum’s struggles, Bumgarner established himself as the No. 2 pitcher in the rotation, going 16-11 with a 3.37 ERA and two complete games, including his first career shutout.

However, Bumgarner was his own worst enemy in Game 2 of this year’s NL Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds. The 6-foot-5 23-year-old allowed four runs in 4¹?³ innings as the Reds took a 2-0 series lead with a 9-0 victory. Bumgarner went 0-2 with a 4.73 ERA in two appearances this year against St. Louis.

Lynn has been a versatile performer for the Cardinals. The 6-foot-5 right-hander made three appearances out of the bullpen during the dramatic division series against the Washington Nationals, but fared poorly, allowing three runs in 3¹?³ innings. Lynn was tagged by the Nationals’ Jayson Werth for a walkoff homer following a 13-pitch battle in the ninth inning of Game 4. The 25-year-old was pitching the ninth as the Cardinals kept closer Jason Motte in the bullpen.

He also made 10 relief appearances during last year’s World Series run, posting a 3.21 ERA in 11 innings.

During the regular season, however, Lynn made 29 starts (35 appearances), going 18-7 with a 3.78 as a fill-in for Chris Carpenter, who was injured until late September. Lynn did not face the Giants this year.

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By Al Saracevic