Bill Baer

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05:  Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the New York Mets during their National League Wild Card game at Citi Field on October 5, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Madison Bumgarner has built a legacy off of his postseason performances


Giants starter Madison Bumgarner has never won a Cy Young Award. In fact, he has never even finished in the top-three in voting, though that might change when the results come in for the 2016 season. But with his track record in the postseason, Bumgarner is absolutely the No. 1 pitcher opposing hitters do not want to see.

Entering Wednesday night’s start against the Mets in the National League Wild Card game at Citi Field, Bumgarner had a career 2.14 ERA with a 77/15 K/BB ratio in 88 1/3 innings in the postseason. He had twice pitched a complete game: in the 2014 Wild Card game against the Pirates and in Game 5 of the 2014 World Series against the Royals.

Bumgarner added another playoff shutout to his ledger, holding the Mets to four hits and a pair of walks with six strikeouts on 119 pitches. The closest the Mets came to scoring was in the bottom of the fifth when T.J. Rivera led off with a double. Rivera was quickly erased when he made a base running blunder on a Rene Rivera fielder’s choice ground out.

Bumgarner now has a 1.94 ERA in the postseason and has already won three World Series rings. We’re at the point now where Bumgarner isn’t maybe one of the best postseason starters of all time. He is one of the best of all time.

Curt Schilling, considered by many to be at least the greatest postseason starter of the last 25 years, compiled a 2.23 ERA and a 120/25 K/BB ratio across 133 1/3 postseason innings between 1993-2007. That includes four complete games of which two were shutouts. He won three World Series rings.

Josh Beckett tossed three shutouts across 13 playoff starts, including the World Series Game 6 clincher for the Marlins in 2003 against the Yankees. Overall, he has a 3.07 ERA with a 99/21 K/BB ratio over 93 2/3 innings.

Cliff Lee made 11 postseason starts for the Phillies and Rangers between 2009-11, putting up a 2.52 ERA and an 89/10 K/BB ratio in 82 innings. Three of those starts were complete games.

John Smoltz had a 2.67 ERA with a 199/67 K/BB ratio in 209 playoff innings between 1991-2009. He completed the game on three occasions, including one shutout (Game 7 of the 1991 NLCS against the Pirates).

The Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter finished with an even 3.00 ERA and a 68/36 K/BB ratio in 108 innings spanning 18 starts. One of those starts was a shutout.

Orel Hershiser made 18 postseason starts and four relief appearances for the Dodgers, Indians, and Mets from 1985-99. The right-hander spun a 2.59 ERA with a 97/43 K/BB ratio in 132 innings. Four complete games, two shutouts.

Dave Stewart made 22 postseason appearances for the Dodgers, Athletics, and Blue Jays and compiled a 2.77 ERA with a 73/48 K/BB ratio over 133 innings. That included three complete games of which one was a shutout. Stewart has three World Series rings.

Bob Gibson only made nine postseason starts but threw 81 innings to the tune of a 1.89 ERA and a 92/17 K/BB ratio for the Cardinals between 1964-68.

Whitey Ford made 22 postseason starts for the Yankees between 1950-64. He owned a 2.71 ERA with a 94/34 K/BB ratio in 146 innings. He completed seven starts including three shutouts. Ford earned the most World Series rings of anyone on this list at six.

Of course, it’s hard to top former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who limited the opposition to 11 earned runs (0.70 ERA) with a 110/21 K/BB ratio in 141 playoff innings en route to five World Series rings. But it might be proper to separate starters and relievers for this conversation, as Rivera never had to pitch the ninth inning with a pitch count over 100.

As you can see, Bumgarner’s numbers are, in one way or another, better than everyone on this list. He is only 27 years old but we may be looking at the best postseason starter of all time. We’ll have to see where the next decade takes him before we write that in ink rather than pencil, however.

Conor Gillaspie’s three-run homer in the ninth inning sends Giants to the NLDS

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05:  Conor Gillaspie #21 of the San Francisco Giants runs the bases as he celebrates his three-run homerun in the ninth inning against the New York Mets during their National League Wild Card game at Citi Field on October 5, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Even year — ahem — magic is alive and well as Giants third baseman Conor Gillaspie‘s three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning off of Mets closer Jeurys Familia broke a scoreless tie and helped send his team to the NLDS against the Cubs.

Starters Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard traded zeroes for seven innings as the pitcher’s duel unfolded exactly as expected. Syndergaard brought a no-hitter nearly through the sixth inning, but Denard Span broke it up with a well-struck single to center field. It was one of only two hits Syndergaard would allow on the evening along with three walks and 10 strikeouts on 108 pitches over seven innings. Addison Reed worked a scoreless eighth before giving way to Familia in the ninth.

Bumgarner, meanwhile, skated through the first three innings on a total of 21 pitches. While the Mets would become more selective at the dish, it didn’t amount to much. Through eight innings, Bumgarner limited them to four hits and a pair of walks with six strikeouts on 106 pitches.

In the top of the ninth against Familia, Brandon Crawford led off with a double to left-center. Joe Panik walked to bring Gillaspie to the plate. Gillaspie took a 96 MPH sinker for a strike and a 96 MPH sinker for a ball, then blasted a 96 MPH sinker to right-center, clearing the fence by plenty to give the Giants a 3-0 lead.

There was no chance Bumgarner was coming out once the Giants took the lead in the ninth, unless manager Bruce Bochy wanted to get punched to the moon. Bumgarner got Yoenis Cespedes to fly out to right field, Curtis Granderson to fly out to left field, and T.J. Rivera to fly out to right-center to end the game.

Bumgarner’s postseason brilliance continues. He now has a 1.94 ERA with an 83/17 K/BB ratio in 97 1/3 career postseason innings.

If there was one person without a particular allegiance to the Giants happy about Gillaspie’s home run, it’s probably Orioles manager Buck Showalter. Showalter was criticized heavily for refusing to bring closer Zach Britton into Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card game, a game which the Orioles lost on a walk-off three-run home run by Edwin Encarnacion. Well, Mets manager Terry Collins used his closer and he ended losing on a walk-off three-run homer anyway.

The Giants will head to Wrigley Field to face the Cubs in the NLDS which begins on Friday at 9:00 PM EDT.

Dusty Baker wanted to play for the Dodgers because they had “good bodies”

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 24: Manager Dusty Baker #12 of the Washington Nationals talks with Bryce Harper #34 during the fourth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins at Nationals Park on April 24, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Last week, Craig brought to our attention a rather interesting quote from Nationals manager Dusty Baker. The skipper said his team “is a baby-making team.” We can all come to our own conclusions as to what that means.

The interesting quotes kept coming on Wednesday. In a piece by Bill Shaikin for the Los Angeles Times, Baker said he had always wanted to be a Dodger as a player. Baker said, “I heard the Dodgers had the best athletes, pretty uniforms and good bodies. I was like, ‘Shoot, you’re talking about me.'”

Baker, of course, played for the Dodgers for eight seasons between 1976 and 1983. They were arguably the best years of his career as he made two All-Star teams, won two Silver Sluggers, and placed in fourth in National League Most Valuable Player balloting in 1980.

The Nationals and Dodgers begin Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday at 5:30 PM EDT.