Olney: Contenders take note -- MadBum is back

Through seven starts, Giants ace Madison Bumgarner is putting up numbers similar to his best season. Imagine what he could do in a pennant race. John G. Mabanglo/EPA

Buster Posey is the chiding older brother in his relationship with Madison Bumgarner, with Bumgarner never failing to return verbal fire with the deep sarcasm that saturates their communication. They don't tend to trade any compliments when a good insult would suffice.

So Posey's immediate response to Bumgarner's most recent start, against the Dodgers on Wednesday night, was telling, because Posey is not one for empty praise. "The best stuff he's had all year," Posey said during a postgame interview with Amy Gutierrez of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Bumgarner gave up one run in six innings to the Dodgers, by relying far more -- not less -- on his fastball, a pitch that has drawn the scrutiny of rival evaluators preparing for this summer's trade market and the left-hander's impending free agency in the fall. In Bumgarner's first six starts of this season, his fastball usage peaked at 40 percent, against the Padres in early April, but against the Dodgers on Wednesday, almost 60 percent of his pitches were fastballs.

"Just a better tempo," Giants manager Bruce Bochy texted, "and letting it go with conviction. Staying down [in the strike zone] with the cutter helped as well."