The Giants announced this afternoon that they’ve activated Madison Bumgarner from the 60-day disabled list for his season debut. The San Francisco ace missed the first two months of the season after suffering a fractured finger that required surgical repair late in Spring Training. Righty Pierce Johnson was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento to open a spot on the 25-man roster for Bumgarner, who’ll start tonight’s game against the Diamondbacks.
[Related: Updated San Francisco Giants depth chart]
Despite the fact that Bumgarner hasn’t made a single start at the MLB level this season, while Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija have each been plagued by injuries, the Giants have remarkably remained afloat with a 30-30 record in surprisingly feeble NL West. The D-backs currently lead the pack with a 31-28 record, though they’ve largely been in a free-fall for the past several weeks (in no small part due to several key injuries of their own).
The return of Bumgarner will represent a seismic boost to a Giants rotation that has turned in a miserable 4.59 ERA that ranks 23rd among MLB clubs. With Cueto and Samardzija both on the shelf, the Giants currently have Chris Stratton, Andrew Suarez, Derek Holland and Dereck Rodriguez backing Bumgarner in the rotation mix, as lefty Ty Blach has already been dispatched to the bullpen after struggling to a 4.90 ERA as a starter.
Bumgarner made just two rehab appearances before returning to the Giants, though he could hardly have looked more impressive in that limited minor league assignment. The lefty tossed 8 1/3 innings between the Giants’ Class-A Advanced and Triple-A affiliates, posting a 15-to-1 K/BB ratio and allowing just two hits (one a solo homer) in addition to hitting one batter. He topped out at 4 2/3 innings on said rehab assignment, so it’s possible that manager Bruce Bochy exercises caution and keeps Bumgarner on a shorter leash than usual. But it seems he’s mostly ready to return to the top of the rotation for a surprisingly competitive club that, at present, sits just 1.5 games out of the lead in its division.
The 28-year-old Bumgarner is earning $12.5MM this season, and the Giants hold a no-brainer club option for the same amount for the 2019 season. That’ll be the final year of team control over Bumgarner, who’ll head into free agency at the age of 30 in the 2019-20 offseason.