Following his out-of-this-world postseason performance last fall, Giants ace Madison Bumgarner has come back to earth in 2015—so far. In two starts this year, the reigning World Series MVP has posted a 1–1 record with a more human-like 5.40 ERA, while allowing six earned runs and a league-worst 16 hits in 10 innings.
That includes his performance in Saturday’s loss to the Padres, where the big lefty allowed five earned runs and 10 hits in three innings.
Compare that to last October when the 6-foot-5 ace allowed a total of six earned runs in 52.7 innings (good for an ERA of 1.03), spread over seven games and four series while nearly single-handedly winning the World Series for San Francisco.
Naturally his numbers in two 2015 starts are a drop in the bucket compared to a full season, as he’ll likely start more than 30 games this year, but it’s still surprising to see the once-untouchable, touchable again.
But he should be fine.
Other stars have suffered similar drops in performance after an outstanding performance on the highest stage, and they rebounded back to their normally stellar output.
Remember “the shot” Christian Laettner hit to beat Kentucky and propel Duke back into the Final Four back in 1992? (Of course, you do. We’ve only seen it replayed a thousand times this spring.)
The buzzer-beater capped maybe the most amazing single-game performance since the NCAA expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The senior forward was perfect both from the field (10 for 10, including a three-pointer) and from the line (10 for 10 as well)—to finish with 31 points and 7 rebounds. And the Blue Devils needed all of it to advance.
He came a ways down from that high, though, hitting just two of eight shots and finishing with an un-Laettner-like eight points in his next outing (the Final Four), while looking completely out of sorts in Duke’s narrow win over Indiana. For the record, though, he rebounded in the title to the tune of 6 for 13 shooting from the floor and finishing with 19 points in the win over Michigan.
Looking to a more recent example, take Michael Phelps. He had the most perfect Olympics ever in winning eight gold medals—in eight events—at the 2008 Games. Instead of carrying the momentum of four years earlier into 2012, though, he started out with a fourth-place finish (his first non-medal Olympic run since 2000) and then a pair of silvers, before capturing four golds in a row.
So, while it’s a little strange to see Bumgarner struggle, even the best have to come down at some point.