NEW YORK -- Last weekend in Cincinnati, Madison Bumgarner reclined in the visitor's clubhouse, craned his neck, and witnessed the end of a masterpiece. On the TV was Jacob deGrom, whom Bumgarner will face in a marquee matchup on Thursday at Citi Field, delivering his latest gem in a season
NEW YORK -- Last weekend in Cincinnati, Madison Bumgarner reclined in the visitor's clubhouse, craned his neck, and witnessed the end of a masterpiece. On the TV was Jacob deGrom, whom Bumgarner will face in a marquee matchup on Thursday at Citi Field, delivering his latest gem in a season full of them. Bumgarner paid attention because the entire baseball world is paying attention to deGrom, whose 1.71 ERA is building him a legitimate case for the National League Cy Young Award despite an 8-7 record.
Bumgarner has had seasons, he admits, where his win-loss record didn't reflect how he felt he'd pitched. What pitcher hasn't? That's part of the reason why Bumgarner welcomed a discussion about it prior to Wednesday's game at Citi Field, during which he expressed his admiration for the Mets' right-hander.
"It's impressive. Going into tomorrow, you know you probably can't give up a run," Bumgarner told MLB.com.
"It's so close with deGrom, [Max] Scherzer and [Aaron] Nola, too, but if I had a [Cy Young] vote, [deGrom is] probably where I'd go with it."
Bumgarner is in something of a unique position to speak on the subject. His Giants teams have always been built around pitching and defense. Not even the three World Series championship clubs were the type to outslug opponents.
Four times in his career, the Giants' offense has ranked lower than the Mets rank this season entering Wednesday's game (21st in runs scored in the Majors). During those seasons -- 2011, '13, and '17-18 -- Bumgarner sits seven games under .500 (32-39) despite a 3.06 ERA.
"I know we get the wins and losses by our name, but you're not winning games without the help of your team," Bumgarner said. "You can lose them [yourself]. But the whole deal is a team effort. I don't think there is any one answer to it. It's not always your fault."
Then there are times, Bumgarner makes sure to point out, when pitchers win because their offense provides in droves. The last time Bumgarner and deGrom matched up, the lefty beat deGrom despite allowing four earned runs in five innings. That game, Aug. 18, 2016, in San Francisco, "wasn't the game either of us were looking for," Bumgarner said. It ended in a 10-7 Giants win.
deGrom, of course, has rarely been afforded such fortune this summer. He's held opponents to three runs or less in 23 straight starts but is 6-7 in those games.
"In his case, I don't think [the record] should affect his candidacy at all," Bumgarner said. "If anybody disagrees with that, they clearly aren't watching the games. I don't think it should, but there is no doubt that it will cost him."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.