SAN FRANCISCO -- For a few weeks this summer, Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta found themselves as allies. They had emerged the leading faces of a pitchers' push for inclusion in the Home Run Derby. And both boasted credentials that actually led Major League Baseball to briefly consider the possibility.The
SAN FRANCISCO -- For a few weeks this summer, Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta found themselves as allies. They had emerged the leading faces of a pitchers' push for inclusion in the Home Run Derby. And both boasted credentials that actually led Major League Baseball to briefly consider the possibility.
The two never did get the All-Star Game stage to show off their swings, though they will now accept an October one. For all the hype surrounding the Bumgarner-Arrieta pitching matchup, Game 3 of the Giants-Cubs National League Division Series (8:30 p.m. CT/6:30 p.m. PT on FS1 and FOX Deportes) on Monday, with the Cubs one win from the NL Championship Series, will also pit two of baseball's best-hitting pitchers against one another.
It's a unique wrinkle, and one not to be overlooked. With runs expected to be at a premium, having a pitcher who can handle the bat could loom large for either club.
:: NLDS: Giants vs. Cubs coverage ::
"I just think that the impact could be the fact that you've got nine hitters in the lineup," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "The pitchers are probably not going to be counted on just to bunt somebody over. There will be something different about it. Both pitchers will know going into it that there's a lot of respect going both ways."
Bumgarner (three) and Arrieta (two) were two of the four starting pitchers (joining Noah Syndergaard and Adam Wainwright) to hit multiple home runs this season. But for all the love Bumgarner gets at the plate, Arrieta (.262/.304/.415) actually produced a higher average.
Arrieta led all pitchers with 17 hits during the regular season. Of course, right behind him was Bumgarner, with 16.
"Well, he's one of the guys that you treat like a typical position player," Arrieta said of facing the Giants' ace. "So really, you just have to approach him like you would any of their other eight guys in the lineup. [You] try to mix things up and obviously try to neutralize his power, because he's a guy that can leave the ballpark at any time."
In that regard, Bumgarner does have the edge. He leads all active pitchers with 14 homers, 12 of which he's hit over the last three seasons. Arrieta has homered four times in his 208 career regular-season at-bats.
The nine-hole damage that both pitchers have wrought on other teams is what they'll seek to prevent on Monday.
"That's the last thing any pitcher wants to do is give up a hit to another pitcher," Bumgarner said. "Some guys you might pitch tougher than a hitter because you really don't want to take a chance on giving up a hit to them and getting something started, so you might pitch them a little tougher, even."
Interestingly, the two have had limited head-to-head opportunities leading into this matchup. Arrieta is 1-for-2 with an RBI single against Bumgarner, while Bumgarner is 0-for-1 with a walk versus Arrieta.
So while a berth in the NLCS will be the most prominent thing at stake when the two take the field on Monday, also important are some bragging rights.
"It's almost like having an American League-type game here, where those guys, you have to make pitches, and pitchers won't get a break or an automatic out in that sense," Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward said. "They'll have to vary their pitches and pay attention to the guy swinging."
Jenifer Langosch has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2007.