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Bumgarner's efforts end season on high note

@SteveGilbertMLB
September 27, 2020

PHOENIX -- The 2020 season may have been filled with disappointment, but the D-backs finished it on a good note as they got another good performance from Madison Bumgarner as part of an 11-3 season-ending win over the Rockies at Chase Field. The D-backs finished with a 25-35 record and

PHOENIX -- The 2020 season may have been filled with disappointment, but the D-backs finished it on a good note as they got another good performance from Madison Bumgarner as part of an 11-3 season-ending win over the Rockies at Chase Field.

The D-backs finished with a 25-35 record and in last place in the National League West, but they managed to win five of their final six games.

Box score

“Pissed is probably a good word,” D-backs first baseman Christian Walker said when asked to sum up how he felt about the season. “Not disappointed. That's not the right word, but definitely feel like we left something on the table. But, you know, it's not about how you start, it's how you finish, and [having some] perspective here, you know, we played some good baseball at the end.”

One of the D-backs hitting his stride at the end was Bumgarner (1-4), as he allowed just two hits and struck out four in his six scoreless frames.

In a season filled with a nearly month-long stint on the injured list with a mid back strain, diminished velocity and early struggles, the veteran worked 10 scoreless innings over his final two starts.

Bumgarner pitched Sunday with an infection in his mouth that will require surgery this week, and as a result, was not available for comment.

Pitching coach Matt Herges said the way Bumgarner wrapped up the season made everyone feel better.

“I'm just glad that he finished the way he did,” Herges said. “It's something that I'm gonna sleep better at night, let's put it that way.”

So will the D-backs' front office, which signed Bumgarner to a five-year, $85 million contract when he was a free agent this past winter.

During his rough start to the year -- Bumgarner had an 8.53 ERA prior to his final two starts -- there was a lot of talk about the fact that his four-seam fastball velocity had dropped from prior seasons.

Herges maintained that the real issue was command, and that’s what greatly improved in Bumgarner's final two starts when he walked just one across 10 innings.

"Plain and simple, you guys saw it, it’s command,” Herges said. “It’s attack. It’s not dancing around the zone. It was crisp. I think the confidence was dripping off of him. You saw it. That’s 10 scoreless innings there that were pretty dominant innings. That’s what I’ve been saying all year. Listen, it’s not the velo. It’s the command. It’s how he’s attacking it.

"I’m seeing old Bum these last two games. I’m seeing an attack, I’m seeing a confidence, I’m seeing just a bravado about him that he hasn’t had this year for some reason.”

While Bumgarner was shutting down the Rockies, the D-backs were jumping on Kyle Freeland for two runs in the first and another four in the third.

When it was over, Arizona had 11 runs on 15 hits and had their manager, who really took the stretch of 18 losses in 20 games hard, relieved that it was over but also wishing there were more games to play.

“I don't know if I want it to end, because I feel like if we had more games to play, we would chase some people now. We would chase some teams down, and I think eventually get to where we all wanted to be,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “But I'm battling through some frustration right now; I'm not going to lie. I’m trying to work through some of the things that took place here this year -- some things I had control over and some things I didn’t have control over -- and then keeping plowing ahead. I also share a little frustration because we should not be going home today. That's my mindset.”

But go home they will before getting another chance in 2021.

“It's about looking back, reflecting, building and getting better,” Walker said. “Springboarding off this year and going out and winning a World Series next year.”

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.