The New York Mets are tasked with doing the unthinkable: beat Madison Bumgarner in the postseason. However, it can be done.
Anyone somewhat familiar with baseball knows the growing legend of Madison Bumgarner. After allowing just one earned run in 21 innings in the 2014 World Series, he went from good pitcher, to baseball legend. This isn’t to discount the long list of other postseason heroics under his belt, including a road win in Texas in the 2010 World Series as a rookie, or a complete game shutout in Pittsburgh in 2014. MadBum’s three rings speak for themselves, as he prepares to take the hill at Citi Field on Wednesday night.
The New York Mets must a slay a ‘Giant’ dragon, something that seems nearly impossible. Standing at 6’5 and about 250 lbs, Bumgarner is as imposing as they come. His lifetime 2.14 ERA in the postseason speaks for itself, as the Mets will prepare for their most difficult task of the season.
Given Bumgarner’s past success, postseason track record, and full rest heading into Wednesday’s game, one wonders if the Mets have any chance of emerging victorious. The answer, isn’t too complex.
The 2016 New York Mets are a squad that has made a mockery of the word ‘adversity.’ When they fell two games under .500 to the same Giants they’ll go to battle with this week, they could have quit. They could have gone through the motions of the season’s final six weeks and waved the white flag. Regardless of who was injured, who was starting, or who the opponent was, Terry Collins‘s men came to the park ready to play.
Overcoming hardships became commonplace for the boys in blue and orange. So many times this season did the Mets seem finished. You could recall Collins’s postgame tirade after being swept at home by Arizona, or being tasked with leap-frogging four teams in the wild card race. Winning two games in Miami after the tragic death of Jose Fernandez, could only have been done with heavy hearts. Without several players from the opening day roster, the Mets have made it to October, and won’t be backing down regardless of the opponent.
Everyone knows how good Bumgarner is. However, the Mets have an ace of their own on the mound (for what it’s worth, Noah Syndergaard tossed eight scoreless innings against the Giants in August), and what’s sure to be a raucous Citi Field behind them.
The beauty of a one game Wild Card playoff is that anything can happen. While that sounds cliche, it carries so much veracity.
Madison Bumgarner is a human being. Vastly talented with nerves of steel, you can bet he’ll be ready to go. Consider this, though: the Mets have already seen the Giants ace twice this season, including a start in which he allowed four runs in five innings.
The difference in the game might not be how many runs the Mets can tag MadBum for, but how hard they make him work. The Mets will aim to weather the storm, and force Bruce Bochy to employ the San Francisco bullpen. This is the same ‘pen that blew a league high 30 saves, including nine in the month of September. You can bet that Bochy will rely on his ace to throw well over 100 pitches, and finish the game if the opportunity is there.
The New York Mets made the postseason against all odds. Losing four of their young aces, their team captain, and numerous others to injury, they found a way. The expectation will be that the Giants get it done; it’s no secret that they’ve been the most successful franchise over the past decade.
No one beats the Giants in an even year. No one can topple Bumgarner in a do or die game. Then again, no one could fathom that the Mets would even be in this situation six weeks ago.
The beauty of baseball is it’s ability to be unpredictable. Against all odds yet again, there’s no reason to think that the Mets can’t slay their season’s biggest dragon.