6:33pm: Bumgarner has a displaced fracture in his fifth metacarpal (that is, his pinky), Baggarly reports (Twitter links). He’ll have surgery tomorow to place pins that will remain in place for four to six weeks. Once his finger is back in working order, of course, Bumgarner will need to build back up to a starter’s workload.
The hope at this point is that Bumgarner will be be able to return before the All-Star break, per Baggarly, who notes that there is a worthwhile comp to consider. Former Giants righty Ryan Volgelsong missed about 11 weeks with a similar injury back in 2013.
6:10pm: Giants ace Madison Bumgarner has been diagnosed with a fractured left hand after being struck on the hand by a batted ball today, the club announced and Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic was among those to report on Twitter. Details on his anticipated absence are not known, but this is clearly a devastating injury for a player and team that were hoping for a major rebound from a disappointing 2018 season.
The 28-year-old Bumgarner has been one of the game’s preeminent workhorses ever since he took to the big league mound. Between 2011 and 2016, he never made less than 31 starts, threw fewer than 201 1/3 innings, or finished a season with an earned run average above 3.37. Over the past three seasons of that run, he took the ball 99 times and racked up 662 1/3 frames of 2.88 ERA ball. And that’s all before taking into account his legendary postseason efforts.
That all changed early last year, when Bumgarner was injured in a dirt bike accident. But he still made it back in time to finish the year with 111 innings of 3.32 ERA pitching on his ledger. And it seems fair to say that he has looked himself this spring. In his first five Cactus League starts, Bumgarner racked up 27 strikeouts against just three walks while allowing six earned over 19 frames.
In the aggregate, it seemed that the lost first half of the 2017 campaign might end up as little more than a blip on the radar for MadBum, a burly lefty who has long been a paragon of strength on the mound. While his shoulder does not appear to be a significant cause of concern moving forward, though, he’ll now have to work back from another injury.
As noted above, it’s impossible to say at this point how long the Giants will go without Bumgarner. The specifics of the injury, along with the course of treatment, could presumably result in a variety of scenarios. And he’ll clearly need to rebuild his pitch count before going full-bore at the game’s highest level. Position players frequently are able to return from this general sort of injury without terribly lengthy absences — less than six weeks in some cases — but perhaps it could take somewhat longer than usual for a hurler who suffered a fracture to his pitching hand. Regardless, we’ll need to await further word before any kind of timeline is available.
The news comes on the heels of the loss of another key starter, Jeff Samardzija, to open the season. Skipper Bruce Bochy said today that Samardzija is likely to miss something on the order of three to four weeks, as Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. That knocks out two of the team’s top three starters on the cusp of Opening Day.
As things stand, San Francisco is going to trot out a roster that features Johnny Cueto at the top of the rotation, followed by non-roster invitee Derek Holland and relatively unproven hurlers Chris Stratton and Ty Blach. There are some intriguing young talents that could conceivably take the fifth starter’s spot, once it’s needed, but the club will no doubt be on the look for outside additions. Of course, the luxury tax tightrope walk that the Giants have attempted this winter — which is why they shipped out a notable depth piece in Matt Moore — is going to make it hard to find any kind of impactful arm.