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Madison Bumgarner ended the World Series by throwing six straight high fastballs to Salvador Perez, the majority of which were up around Perez's eyeballs. It was the perfect matchup for the series to end on: a guy who works his fastball high in the zone better than any pitcher in the league coming right after a hitter who has no qualms about trying to put a chin-high burner into the seats.


To give you an idea of just how high Bumgarner was stretching the zone in that final at-bat, here's the strikezone plot from Brooks Baseball:

That looks like the work of a guy who's completely lost his ability to throw a strike, but Bumgarner put each one of those pitches exactly where he wanted to. The high fastball has been a deadly out pitch for him all season, and he relied on it this year more than he ever has before.


It's a pitch that's served him well against a lot of hitters, and it was tailor-made to get Salvador Perez out in that inning. Perez will hack at pitches high in the zone, and he's actually pretty damn good at making contact up there. Bumgarner was definitely aware of this, and attacked Perez right where he knew the big catcher was going to be looking for a ball to take a home-run swing at. After the game, he revealed as much while talking about how he approached Perez:

"I knew Perez was going to want to do something big," Bumgarner said. "I had a really good chance, too. We tried to use that aggressiveness and throw our pitches up in the zone. It's a little bit higher than high, I guess."


Bumgarner played Perez like a fiddle. He got him to swing through the first fastball, went way high with a pitch that Perez watched sail by for a ball, came back down a bit to get him to swing through another fastball, went way high again with a ball to keep Perez's eye level where he wanted it, came down again and let Perez get a little piece on a foul ball, and finally finished him off with a heater up and in—the lowest of the at-bat—that probably looked so, so juicy compared to the previous five pitches. Of course Salvador Perez was going to swing at that last pitch, and of course he wasn't going to be able to do anything other than pop a weak foul ball into Pablo Sandoval's glove.

It was a fitting way for Bumgarner's unbelievable postseason to end. He spent so much of the season shredding lineups with a pitch—a 92-mph fastball up in the zone—that isn't supposed to be nearly as effective as it is. Bumgarner just kept slinging the pitch that got him here, and Salvador Perez, like so many others before him, couldn't do shit about it.

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