It would figure that our first scouting report of the season would turn out to be a very tough one to gauge; Nate Bump. First of all, Bump lasted just five innings, but it certainly wasn't by any fault of his own. In the top of the third inning, Bump took a line drive off his right ankle, which hit hard enough to ricochet past shortstop Brian Bocock and onto the outfield grass. Two hitters later, Cody Ransom simply dropped the ball during a rundown between second and third for his 12th error of the season, leading to two unearned runs and an added pitch count for Bump. In the third, an error by right fielder Rich Thompson let to another unearned run for Buffalo.
Still, after watching Bump in all five of his home starts this season, there are some general trends and things that we can report about the 33 year old right-hander. Let's start with a look at the simple numbers that Bump has put up this season:
Bump's splits show that left-handed hitters (.271 average) can be a bit more of an issue for Bump than right-handers, who have hit .226 against Bump this season. The splits also show that Bump truly needs to work ahead in the count, since hitters average .344 against him when he's behind in the count and just .131 when Bump gets ahead of hitters. Generally, Bump throws a lot of first-pitch strikes, but can fade a little from there, possibly because he works to set-up hitters rather than throwing pitches by him.
|Nate Bump pitching during his days at Penn State.|
Bump's velocity peaks in the high-80s and generally can be found sitting around 86 or 87 miles per hour. Because he doesn't have great velocity, Bump has to be smarter than the average hitter to keep them off-pace. His fastball has some late movement and he can move it through the zone to get hitters to swing and miss. With just 23 strikeouts in 56 innings of work, it's clear to see that Bump doesn't live and die on getting strikeouts. Instead, he depends on his fielders to make plays behind him, something that got him into trouble in Sunday's outing. Generally, Bump has benefited from the IronPigs defensive abilities. While the 'Pigs have made nine errors in their past seven games, before that streak, they had gone 58 consecutive innings without committing an error.
To go with his fastball, Bump has a change-up, which is generally about ten miles per hour slower than his fastball and he disguises it well. His breaking pitch is a sinker that has tight, late movement and has a velocity in the lower-80s.
"Bump threw the ball well today [Sunday]," said Brian Schneider, who was rehabbing with the Lehigh IronPigs over the weekend and caught Bump's start. "He [Bump] just had a lot of bad luck today. I know they had some hits, but a lot of them were just little bleeps and things that fell in there."
While none of his pitches are anything that scouts are going to rave about, the whole package of pitches isn't bad. It's generally good enough to get him through, but for him to be successful at the major league level, he would need to depend on his change-up and sinker for their change in velocity to keep hitters away from tagging his fastball. Throughout his career, Bump has been able to keep the ball down in the zone and has avoided giving up a lot of home runs in his career, averaging just 0.7 home runs per nine innings with his combined major league and minor league stats.
Bump has had opportunities to pitch in the majors with the Marlins, but hasn't been able to breakthrough and has a career 4.68 ERA in 113 games, only two of which were starts, which is opposite of his minor league numbers in which he 153 of 168 games. Without great velocity, Bump is likely better suited to starting than coming in to relieve, although his numbers with runners on base have generally been pretty good throughout his career.
The bottom line is that Bump might be able to hold down a spot in a major league team's starting rotation, especially if it was a club that fielded a strong defensive lineup.
Nate Bump's major league stats