The differing in rules between baseball’s leagues are part of what can make everyday interleague play interesting. Pitchers who have never hit in their careers get to figure out which end of the bat to hold, and National League teams have the chance to inject some offense into their lineups and find roles for relegated hitters. In 2012, the Phillies reacquired slugger Jim Thome, seemingly for the sole purpose of having him DH in their nine away games in AL parks.
But when given a chance to shoot some more offense into their largely inoffensive lineup tonight at the Oakland Coliseum, the Giants opted to not go with a bat off the bench, but rather, let starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner hit.
Bumgarner will hit tomorrow. First time a manager intentionally gives up the DH since 1976— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) June 30, 2016
Anyone with eyes and a Giants game feed will tell you that Bumgarner has gained the sport’s utmost reputation as a hitter among pitchers. Already in 2016, he has added two home runs to his career total, now at 13 since his first AB in 2009 (He went 1-for-2 with a SO that year).
Last year, he tagged Clayton Kershaw.
Not bad for a guy who only gets to bat once every five days. No wonder people are clamoring for him to appear in the Home Run Derby.
Bumgarner’s only hitting .175, but with the roster already spread a little thinner due to injuries to Hunter Pence, Joe Panik, and Matt Duffy, the options available to manager Bruce Bochy don’t look a whole lot more appealing than Bumgarner, a two-time Silver Slugger winner, with a bat in his hands. Already the contending, favored Giants have been linked to trade rumors involving players like Josh Reddick, who, in theory, would help their low offensive output from the corner outfield spots, where bench players and potential DH options like Mac Williamson, Gregor Blanco, and Jarrett Parker have struggled.
But where's the fun in watching one of them hit tonight? There's not a significantly sexy option in the bunch despite varying levels of success among them. Parker has been knocking more consistently since hitting .189/rock bottom on June 13. Blanco has one hit in his last eight games. Back-up catcher Trevor Brown is currently in midst of the ebb and flow of his low to mid-.200 BA season. Conor Gillaspie is 8-for-his-last-12, and Mac Williamson has five hits in his previous 25 ABs; a hug improvement on the sub-200 doldrums in which he's spent much of the year. And only Brown and Parker have more home runs than Bumgarner.
The decision to allow the starting pitcher to hit in American League territory is the first of its kind in 40 years. But A’s fans, to their credit, seem to know what’s coming.
The A's should trade for Bumgarner. We could use someone that can hit...— Sweeney (@BigSween420) June 21, 2016