Madison Bumgarner Is Eager to Get Back to Being a 200-inning Workhorse

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There were six National League pitchers who reached 200 innings in 2016, and three of them were Giants. Last year's staff leader was Derek Holland at 171 1/3 innings, and if you gave truth serum to team executives, they would likely tell you they would be just fine with the Giants going with something closer to that route. 

The strength of this team may be the bullpen, and Farhan Zaidi and the coaches have been open about the fact that they would like to limit certain guys. Jeff Samardzija has five 200-inning seasons as a big leaguer but there's no way he'll get close this year because the staff wants to take it easy on him after a shoulder injury. Samardzija is taking a less-might-be-more approach. 

Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez would like to take that next step, but Zaidi already has said one may start the season in the minors, and both will be watched closely. Holland and Drew Pomeranz have combined for one 200-inning season in the big leagues and both may be swingmen at times. 

Madison Bumgarner, Samardzija and Johnny Cueto all hit 200 innings in their first season together, but three years later, things have certainly changed. Just don't tell that to Bumgarner. 

Asked if less could be more for him, too, he shook his head quickly. 

"No, definitely not," Bumgarner said. "In my case, I look to throw 200-plus every year."

Bumgarner did it six years in a row before injuries ruined his 2017 and 2018 seasons. The game has changed since he tossed 226 2/3 innings in 2016, and he knows it. But he also knows the value in having a true workhorse. 

"That part has definitely changed a lot, but I don't think it's any less valuable by any means," he said. "If anything, it's the other way ... if someone is effective throwing 200 innings, why would you not want him out there? That doesn't make sense."

Modern front offices might disagree, pointing to the fact that most starters decline as they face a lineup a third or fourth time. The Giants may change the way they handle some of their pitchers this season and in future years, but when it comes to the ace, Bumgarner still has a manager who wants him out there as often as possible. 

"He's the horse," Bruce Bochy said. "He's the guy. If he stays healthy, I think we'll see him around 200 innings."

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