ATLANTA --- Shortly after the Giants' come-from-behind win over the Braves in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy made up his mind on today's starting pitcher.
"Our Game 4 starter will be Madison Bumgarner," he said. "He's all set to go, so he'll be out there tomorrow."
Bochy had considered sending staff ace Tim Lincecum back out to the mound on three days' rest.
The hesitation came from the fact that Bumgarner, in his first full year with the Giants, doesn't have much playoff experience.
In fact, his last postseason start came in Augusta.
Bumgarner was the ace who led the 2008 Augusta GreenJackets to the best record in minor league baseball and a South Atlantic League championship.
The first-round draft pick went 15-3 with a 1.46 ERA in 24 starts during the regular season.
In his first professional postseason start, Bumgarner struck out 10 in an eight-inning shutout over Asheville in Game 1 of the SAL Southern Division series.
He faced one batter over the minimum, and picked off two of the three batters who managed to get a hit.
Six days later, Bumgarner allowed one unearned run over six innings in another playoff victory to help the GreenJackets sweep the championship series.
Though tonight's game will be on a much larger stage, Bumgarner said the emotions are the same.
"This is obviously different, but to me I think it feels the same," he said. "At that level it's the biggest game you can play, and at this level it's getting to the same thing here. At the time (in Augusta), I was feeling just like I do now."
After he was named Minor League Baseball's Most Outstanding Pitcher of the Year in 2008, Bumgarner spent most of 2009 at the Advanced-A and Double-A levels before making his major league debut in September. He started the 2010 season at Triple-A Fresno and was called up in late June.
His 7-6 record with a 3.00 ERA in 18 starts with San Francisco this year included a few less-than-stellar performances. Bumgarner said his method for recovering from a rough start includes a look back at his days as a GreenJacket.
"That was the year where pretty much the whole season I was on mechanically," he said. "So whenever I have some trouble I always go back and look at some Augusta tape and watch that and see what I was doing then.
"It was one of those years where it seemed every time I went out there everything was working."
Though Bumgarner's Single-A consistency hasn't fully carried over to the big leagues, he finished the regular season with two quality starts, throwing seven shutout innings at Wrigley Field on Sept. 23 and allowing just one run in five innings against Arizona Sept. 30.
Both outings produced wins and, though Bumgarner hasn't pitched in 10 days, Bochy has seen enough to put the ball in his hands.
"He's a 21-year-old, but the way he handles himself, you wouldn't know it. He's got great poise out there and good stuff," Bochy said.
"We have all the confidence in the world that Madison will go out there and give us everything he's got. This kid has no fear."