Originally written on Seed Spitters  |  Last updated 3/23/12

It has been decided! Stephen Strasburg will start opening day for the Washington Nationals!

Be careful driving out there as I’m sure the streets are littered with streamers and empty plastic cups.

I just assume there’s been Mardi Gras style partying since the media has been treating this news as something more than a ESPN ticker update. But since Stephen Strasburg is such a young phenom everything he does will get magnified attention.

Must be nice. I wish the Giants had a young pitcher with tons of promise. Maybe one who’s coming off a season in which he pitched 204 innings with a 3.21 ERA and a 8.4 K/9 ratio

How easily we forget about the brilliance that is Madison Bumgarner.

This post isn’t a slight against Strasburg. By all accounts he’s going to be great. In his 13 starts he has posted amazing numbers that are most likely signs of a promising future. But having pitched only 93 major league innings, Strasburg is still largely an unproven product.

Alternatively, Bumgarner is coming off a full season in which he consistently dominated opponents aside from one game that is undoubtedly going to go down as his worst career start.

In 2010 Bumgarner came up in late June to help fuel the Giants’ postseason run. In 18 starts he pitched less than five innings only twice and gave up more than four runs only four times, finishing with a 3.00 ERA. In the postseason Bumgarner shined even brighter. He started three games and pitched another two innings in relief and posted a 2-0 record, 2.18 ERA and 18 strike outs.

Oh, and he did it all at the age of 21, which might be the most amazing thing about his career so far.

He pitches so smoothly and with such ease that it’s hard to remember he’s still so young. If Strasburg comes in this year, starts 33 games with a 3.30 ERA it will be a tremendous success.

Bumgarner already did it – two years younger.

He doesn’t throw in the upper nineties and he didn’t get any of the attention Strasburg got heading into the draft, but Bumgarner (22) is showing that he is every bit deserving of the attention and accolades being thrown at other young pitches such as Strasburg (23), David Price (26) and even Aroldis Chapman (24).

Sure, he’s getting some love from the fantasy baseball crowd but no one is honing in on what makes Bumgarner truly special.

The most impressive part of his success isn’t just that he’s doing it at such a young age, but also how he’s managed to do it at such a young age.

While Strasburg, Price, and Chapman all have superior stuff with which to overpower hitters, Bumgarner takes his merely great stuff and outpitches hitters.

Bumgarner is the type of pitcher that could pitch at a very high level into his mid- or even late-thirties. He’s smart, has plus control, and have I mentioned that he’s young?

I don’t wish that Strasburg and the other fellas don’t have fantastic careers (I kinda wish they don’t have fantastic careers). But I do wish that more people take notice of what a rare breed Bumgarner is.

Bumgarner (21-22) in 2011: 204.2 innings, a 3.21 ERA.

For comparison:

During the 2009 season David Price (23-24)  pitched 128.1 innings with a 4.42 ERA.

When Roy Halladay was 22 he pitched 149.1 innings with a 3.92 ERA

Roger Clemens only pitched 98.1 innings with a 3.29 ERA when he was 22-23.

Curt Schilling pitched 8.2 innings for a 6.23 ERA innings when he was 22.

When Pedro Martinez was 22 he pitched 144.2 innings with a 3.42 ERA.

So clearly Madison Bumgarner is going to have better careers than all of these pitchers.

Maybe not. But he is well ahead of the curve. One that Giants fans should be able to follow for years. And maybe by the time MadBum reaches his 30s he’ll get some run support by the finally-promoted Brandon Belt.

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