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Diamondbacks simplifying approach with Madison Bumgarner

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws a pitch against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, April 12, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)


That’s the keyword Arizona Diamondbacks pitching coach Matt Herges kept rounding back around to when talking about Madison Bumgarner on Friday.

Through three outings this year, Bumgarner has struggled immensely. He’s allowed 22 hits and eight walks over 13.2 innings for 17 earned runs. His ERA sits at 11.20.

Herges said their approach with Bumgarner is now looking less at analytics, pitch design and so on. They don’t believe that’s the issue.

“My one message to him is, ‘Listen, when you execute your pitches — when you’re commanding of the baseball, with your fastball, your cutter and your curveball with a few changeups here mixed in, that’s when you’re great. That’s when you’ve been great,'” Herges said. “So that’s what we’re doing right now, that’s what he’s focusing on now.”

Herges has spent moments reminding Bumgarner about who he was for the past decade, which was one of the best pitchers in baseball for the San Francisco Giants.

“‘Bum, you’re Madison Bumgarner,'” Herges tells him. “‘You literally took a whole city on your shoulders and won a World Series. This is who you are, it’s a few years later, but that’s who you are.'”

Herges praised Bumgarner’s ability to hone in on the way he is throwing the ball mechanically and thinks it might just be a mindset issue, citing Bumgarner’s lack of fastballs thrown in one inning of a start on Monday as an example.

The pitching coach went on to say that there’s definitely not a weakness mentally for Bumgarner and he’s one of the strongest pitchers he’s ever coached from that perspective.

Herges cited the way San Francisco used to do things, by Bumgarner keeping things simple working with catcher Buster Posey and going off their feel.

The D-backs are shifting to that type of setup a little bit more.

“‘We’ll handle the scouting reports, we’ll handle how your pitches are behaving [and] keep an eye on that, but you, Bum, you’re gonna focus on executing your pitches,'” Herges said.

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