Bumgarner feels ill but 'empties the tank'

D-backs lefty continues turnaround with gutsy one-run outing vs. Rockies

May 1st, 2021

wasn't sure how this was going to go. The D-backs left-hander had been battling an illness (not COVID) recently and he wasn’t feeling at his best when he walked to the Chase Field mound for his start against the Rockies on Friday night.

"I was a little bit nervous," Bumgarner said. "I’ve been kind of beat up and a lot of guys in the clubhouse have been, too. I don’t know what, if it’s allergy stuff or whatever's going around, but it kind of took its toll."

You would not have been able to tell Bumgarner was under the weather, given the way he pitched as he held the Rockies to one run over five innings in Arizona's 7-2 victory.

The D-backs have won five of their last six and nine of their last 11 to climb to two games above .500 at 14-12.

After Bumgarner struck out the side in the fifth, manager Torey Lovullo talked with him in the dugout and decided to turn it over to the bullpen. At that point, Bumgarner had thrown just 81 pitches, but given his illness, Lovullo didn't want to extend him with Arizona holding a 5-1 lead.

"I felt like he emptied his tank there in that fifth inning," Lovullo said. "He gave us what he could and I just felt like it was time to maneuver and go to the bullpen. He’s doing fine and he is going to be fine. He was on base today, too, and that takes a lot of energy out of you when you’re not feeling well."

Bumgarner singled in the third inning and was retired in a forceout at second.

"Pretty much anything I did today, it was not ideal [physically]," Bumgarner said.

The results, though, were ideal, marking the third straight outstanding start for him.

Bumgarner threw a seven-inning no-hitter on Sunday against the Braves in the second game of a doubleheader, and over his last three starts, he has allowed two runs over 17 innings, a far cry from the 17 runs he allowed in 13 2/3 innings in his first three starts of the year.

"The big difference for me right now, and I know he had a couple of tough starts to start the season, is there’s just a finish to his pitches," Lovullo said. "There’s a lot of conviction and he’s landing them. Bum deserves all the credit here. I think he’s starting to command the ball on both sides of the plate. For me, that’s one of his main reasons for success."

Pitching with an illness is nothing new for Bumgarner. No Major League pitcher feels 100 percent healthy for all of his starts over the course of a season, not to mention a long career.

Over his 13 years in the big leagues, Bumgarner has learned how to deal with those situations. That no doubt contributed to his success, but it also helped him realize the wisdom in cutting the outing short.

"There’s always some adversity and this is just a different type of it," Bumgarner said of pitching while sick. "You know, looking at this, when we had 5-1 lead and that stuff, we thought it was a good time to try to not completely tax myself. Just looking down the road for future stuff, more than anything, really. I think I would have also been fine to also pitch another inning or two. I’m glad it worked out the way it did. Our bullpen did a great job and the offense tacked on a couple more, too."