MadBum, D-backs determining next steps after tough outing

April 19th, 2023

ST. LOUIS -- Both and manager Torey Lovullo were asked a question that neither had a ready answer for after the D-backs left-hander’s struggles continued Wednesday afternoon in a 14-5 loss to the Cardinals.

Where do they go from here? That was the question for the D-backs.

Bumgarner struggled over the final two months of last season, and after an offseason in which he dropped weight and banked on a fresh start helping the cause, nothing has seemed to work.

The Cardinals scored three runs against him in the first on Wednesday and seven over three innings as he walked four and allowed seven hits.

With the D-backs off to a good start this year, there is a certain urgency to either get Bumgarner right or possibly make a change.

“It's very tough,” Lovullo said. “The empathetic side of me hurts for him and I want every pitcher to do well and I know how hard he's working. He's just grinding. Then the other side of me is extremely frustrated. I just want to see everybody do well to help us win baseball games, and of course that didn't happen today.”

Lovullo was then asked, where would they go from here?

“I don't know,” he said. “As we do with every start, we group up as a [coaching] staff and then sit down with the front office and figure out what to do next. The staff will sit down and figure out what's going to give us the best option in five days. We do the same thing after every start, and we'll do that again.”

Bumgarner was signed to a five-year, $85 million deal prior to the 2020 season and has never quite gotten on a sustained roll.

Pitching coach Brent Strom was hired prior to the 2022 season and initially seemed to have some success with Bumgarner. Through 20 starts last year, the 33-year-old had a 3.71 ERA, but compiled a 7.12 ERA over his final 10 starts.

After his first start this year, Bumgarner complained of some arm fatigue and underwent an MRI.

He hinted that there might be something bothering him physically after his third start of the year against the Marlins last Friday, but he has declined to elaborate.

Asked Wednesday if he was healthy, Bumgarner paused and said, “Sure.”

Bumgarner’s ERA now sits at 10.26 as he goes back to the drawing board.

“Just not very good,” Bumgarner said. “Haven't been very good. It's frustrating. I obviously am trying to do better, putting in the work, it just hasn't shown up yet.”

Bumgarner’s frustration was evident in the third inning when Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras took a huge swing at a 1-0 pitch and let out an audible noise when he did. That prompted Bumgarner to shout something at Contreras, who yelled back.

“Probably go back and read lips, maybe,” Bumgarner said when asked what he said to Contreras.

When asked what the Cardinals catcher did that upset him, Bumgarner declined to get too deep into it.

“If you can't see it, I don't know how to help,” Bumgarner said. “If I pitch better, I might give you something, but I gotta pitch better.”

Lovullo directed any questions about the dust-up to Bumgarner, but did give a bit of a hint as to what it might have been.

“Contreras plays the way he does, and we feel a certain way about his style inside of this clubhouse,” Lovullo said. “And he does what he does and you gotta accept it.”

The loss put a damper on what was an otherwise decent road trip for the D-backs. After losing the first two games in Miami, they won the finale and then took the first two games against the Cardinals to finish with a 3-3 record.

They now head home to open a four-game series against the Padres on Thursday night.

As for where Bumgarner goes from here, it remains to be seen.

“I don't … I wish I had some kind of answer,” Bumgarner said.