Madison Bumgarner is putting together a front-to-back solid season for the first time in his career. Ask any scout who’s seen him a few times and they’ll tell you how he’s doing it.

The cutter.

The pitch has become a prime weapon for the Giants’ 24-year-old left-hander. It leads to ground balls and broken bats. It allows him to collect efficient outs and pitch deeper into games. And it complements his harder fastball his changeup and his curve.

It’s propelled him from one of the game’s brighter young pitchers to one of its full-fledged elites.

“It’s the only pitch I picked up pretty much just like that” said Bumgarner who learned the cutter one day in Triple-A Fresno in 2010. “I started throwing it one day and I used it in a game the very next day. That’s rare for me. It’s the only pitch I picked up just like that.”

Bumgarner is making it look easy now. He’s fifth in the NL in ERA (2.83) and WHIP (1.03). He’s made 18 consecutive starts in which he’s allowed three earned runs or fewer – the longest run by a Giants starter within a single season since Ed Whitson in 1980.

And his .204 opponent’s average is tied for third in the NL behind only brilliant Miami rookie Jose Fernandez and Cy Young Award shoe-in Clayton Kershaw.