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‘Velo not the issue’ for D-backs’ Madison Bumgarner, Herges says

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) throws against the Houston Astros during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The velocity on Madison Bumgarner’s fastball isn’t a worry. Roping in command of his pitches remains the priority for Arizona Diamondbacks pitching coach Matt Herges, who attributes the lefty’s 88.1 mph fastballs to the “weirdness” of the coronavirus-impacted offseason.

“I will flat-out tell you I don’t think the velo’s the issue,” Herges said over Zoom on Wednesday. “I think the pin-point command is the issue.”

Herges, who worked with Bumgarner in San Francisco the last two years, said the lefty is not peppering the corners of the strike zone on his fastball, cutter or curveball with accuracy. The D-backs ace, who signed a five-year, $85 million contract with this offseason, is hitting his mark “six or seven (times) out of 10.”

Bumgarner has thrown in three games and 15.1 innings so far, boasting an ERA of 7.04 and a 1.37 WHIP. His fastball velocity is 3.6 mph slower than his 91.7 mph average a year ago.

During his last start Tuesday, he allowed two home runs, seven earned runs and hit a batter three times in 4.1 innings of an 8-2 loss to the Houston Astros.

“I just wasn’t very good, to put it bluntly,” Bumgarner said. “Just seemed like I couldn’t get anything going for us and that can’t happen, especially in a season like this one.”

Neither D-backs manager Torey Lovullo nor Herges believe there is any health issue linked to Bumgarner’s low velocity so far. Arizona’s pitching coach believes that Bumgarner has been “all ears” to the coaching staff’s recommendations during the pause in training due to the coronavirus and since the team returned.

The Diamondbacks remain unworried about the velocity.

The command? That is something they expect him to iron out as well.

“I know he’s going to keep pounding away on the work days with his pitching coaches,” Lovullo said Wednesday. “I wish there was a magic pill we could take and everything would be back to normal and we’d see that velocity climb.”

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