So many fantasy managers were so scared about investing in veteran left-hander Madison Bumgarner for 2019 that he seemed a bit underrated to me. Bumgarner was coming off a pair of truncated seasons due to injury, but these were not elbow injuries, either. They were fluky injuries. I thought it made Bumgarner a decent buy-low option and he rebounded nicely with the ninth-most innings in the sport, the 17th-best WHIP and his first 200-whiff season since 2016. I call that a successful season.
Bumgarner as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks scares me a bit because he is leaving the most extreme pitchers' park in the land (San Francisco's Oracle Park) for a more neutral one (Arizona's Chase Field), and for a pitcher showing extreme home/road splits in recent seasons, that could be a problem. The other general complaints about Bumgarner make little sense to me. He is 30, hardly too old. He made 34 starts in 2019, so I think he is durable when avoiding dirt bikes. Chase Field is hardly Coors Field, but still, Bumgarner must rein in the home runs, especially if the baseballs remain the 2019 version.
Overall, however, it is possible Bumgarner slips so far outside the top 100 in drafts -- roto or points -- that he remains a nice value, as he was in 2019. The Diamondbacks gave him a five-year contract, so they probably are not too concerned about his age or durability, either. Bumgarner's fastball velocity remains consistent and his pitch mix barely changed, too. He just pitched, and pitched a lot, and while I never like to presume someone wins more than the prior season, he should get more run support on a better team. This is not your fantasy ace, but a reasonable No. 3 or 4 starter.
Sure, the days of a sub-3.00 ERA are likely gone, but Bumgarner still misses bats, just like in the abbreviated campaigns of 2017 and 2018, and limits hard contact and barrels. He stays in the NL West, which I would argue is a positive. He knows the ballparks, and he should get more than a few starts back in San Francisco. It would be nice if Bumgarner -- and every pitcher -- induced more ground balls, but this is what he is, and you know what, hate if you want, but it is not so bad.
Bumgarner finished as the No. 27 starting pitcher in 2019, despite a lame nine wins. Perhaps he can offset the change in ballparks with added wins. Whatever the case, Bumgarner remains a top-30 starting pitcher in my rankings, and I will start worrying about inevitable decline when I start seeing evidence that it is close, perhaps in five years.