Madison Bumgarner Will Be His Own DH Tonight In Oakland
No team has intentionally allowed a pitcher to hit in an American League park since 1976, only three years after the designated hitter rule was adopted. That was Ken Brett of the Chicago White Sox (Bill Veek owned the team then, naturally -- it was also the year that they wore the infamous short pants uniform).
That changed today when San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy announced his lineup for his game in Oakland -- starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner will also be in the batting order. So is this a matter of Bochy giving a huge middle finger to the rest of the West Division? Or does it say more about the state of the Giants' bench?
Here's Grant Brisbee of the McCovey Chroincles with his take:
Ha ha, oh, right, like there’s going to be a painful 14-inning loss in this series where the Giants get the bases loaded in the top of the 14th and have to let Chris Stratton hit. Ha ha, I’d like to see that.
As Brisbee points out, Bumgarner isn't actually his own DH -- the Giants are just declining to use a DH for this game. It's a minute distinction, until Bumgarner leaves the game. If he goes, say, seven innings and is pulled, then the Giants still have to play by National League rules, which means they can't all of a sudden have a DH in Bumgarner's spot. A relief pitcher has to hit (or, of course, a pinch hitter is used). And to my knowledge that has never happened in an AL park since the DH was invented. Hell, it hardly ever happens in the NL.
Of course you know that Bumgarner is a great hitter -- for a pitcher. He's batting .175 this season, .182 career, with two homers and five RBI. The Giants have already used him as a pinch-hitter twice this season. Is that better than Jarrett Parker or Greogor Blanco, one of whom will probably be benched tonight? Parker's hitting .276 with four homers over 76 at-bats, Blanco .250, 0, 172.
But how do you second-guess Bruce Bochy, who is running out of fingers on his left hand to display World Series rings? It's quite possible that he wants to save his bench, and to placate Bumgarner, who probably lobbied for this. And with the Giants 6 games up on the Dodgers in the West, on the day that Clayton Kershaw goes to the DL, Bochy must figure hey, why not?
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