7 Greatest World Series Pitching Performances

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7 Greatest World Series Pitching Performances

The 113th World Series begins tonight.  Dodgers vs Astros.  Based off of the pitching Domination we have already seen by the likes of Verlander, Darvish, McCullers, Kershaw, and Keuchel, it is always quite possible that another October legend may soon be born.  So in reflecting on some of the greatest World Series feats, here are the 7 Greatest World Series Pitching Performances.  

Keep in mind that this list based off of Dominant performances from the entire series.  Not just 1 memorable game.  Therefore, Don Larsen and his Perfect Game will not be on this list, due to the fact that in Game 2 of the 1956 World Series, Larsen lasted just 1.2 IP.  

I kept this list to 7 Dominant Performers.   Why 7?  Because all of them succeeded with the most on the line when a Game 7 was involved, with one dynamic exception.  In the All or Nothing Game 7 scenario, pitch counts are out the window and number of days rest is not a factor as there is no tomorrow.  The survival of the fittest is in its most primitive form.  It is why you play the game.

These 7 are listed chronologically. There is no possible way to compare who is the best when they were all played in different eras, against different opponents.   They weren’t competing against future standouts for the most notable recognition.  Only the lineups standing in front of them.  These 7 all made history and Won the Big Ring.

 

1905 – Christy Mathewson
New York Giants vs Philadelphia Athletics 

7 Greatest World Series Pitching Performances

This is that dynamic exception.  The Gentleman Pitcher threw shutouts in Games 1, 3, and 5.  Mathewson pitched Game 3 on 2 days rest and Game 5 on just 1 day of rest.  Yes the game was very different then.  Nonetheless, standing on the mound, making effective pitches, getting 81 outs in less than a week, without being scored upon is remarkable.  The 373 game winner beat fellow Hall of Famers Eddie Plank and Chief Bender in games 1 and 5 respectively.  Do you want some modern stats?  In this series, Mathewson’s WHIP was 0.519!

Backstory – Mathewson had a career stretch where he won 20 games 13 times in his first 14 seasons.  4 of those times, he won 30 Games in a seasons.  The 1905 campaign, Big Six went 31-9 with a 1.28 ERA in 338 IP!  You will never see feats like that ever again.

 

1957 – Lew Burdette
Milwaukee Braves vs New York Yankees

7 Greatest World Series Pitching Performances

Lew Burdette had 3 complete game wins, 2 of them Shutouts against the mighty Yankees of the 1950s.  The sinkerball pitcher was in complete command over the defending champs as he won Games 2, 5, and 7 bringing the Braves their only championship while in Milwaukee.  Burdette gave up a single run apiece in innings 2 and 3 of his first start, and proceeded to put up 24 straight ‘Goose Eggs’ on the scoreboard.

Backstory – Burdette went 17-9 in 1957 with a 3.72 ERA in 256 IP.  The next season he had his first of 2 consecutive 20 wins seasons as he helped the Braves return to the World Series with a rematch against the Yankees.  In his 18 year career, Burdette was 203-144 with a 3.66 ERA.

 

1965 – Sandy Koufax
Los Angeles Dodgers vs Minnesota Twins

7 Greatest World Series Pitching Performances

After losing Game 2 while only being charged with a lone earned run, Koufax twirled Shutouts in Games 5 and 7, striking out 10 in each.  While squaring off against 283 Game winner, Jim Kaat in each of his 3 starts, the longest time of game for all three was 2:34.  A far different pace than that of today’s World Series games.

Backstory – In 1965, Koufax was in the midst of one of the greatest and most dominant runs as a pitcher.  Sandy went 26-8 with a 2.04 ERA and 382 strikeouts in 335.2 IP.  In September, he threw his 4 No Hitter in in consecutive years.  This one being a perfect game.  In the 1963 World Series, koufax Struck out 15 Yankees in a Game 1 to win the series MVP that year also.

1967 – Bob Gibson
St. Louis Cardinals vs Boston Red Sox

7 Greatest World Series Pitching Performances

With Bob Gibson, it is a matter of which year to pick for his most Dominant World Series Performance.  In 1964, 67, and 68, each series went 7 games, and naturally, Gibson went the distance for 3 starts in everyone.  In 1967, Gibson won Games 1, 4, and 7 while posting an ERA of 1.00.  Game 4 was a shutout victory and he added a Homerun to help himself in the deciding Game 7.

Backstory – The fierce competitor, incredible all around athlete, and one of our featured Slider Dominators, Gibson was also a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.  The Hall of Famer went 13-7 in 1967 with a 2.98 ERA.  It was the following season that Gibson had his legendary 22-7 season with a miniscule 1.12 ERA with 13 shutouts that helped the Cardinals get back to the series.  His most notable performance that year was in Game 1 of the World Series, where he set the series Record by striking out 17 hitters, yet only to be denied his 3rd ring in 5 seasons by…

 

1968 – Mickey Lolich
Detroit Tigers vs St. Louis Cardinals

7 Greatest World Series Pitching Performances

In the year of the Pitcher, Gibson Dominated the National League, and fellow Tiger’s teammate, Denny McLain, was the last pitcher to win 30 Games in a season in 1968.  As the 2 pitchers who won both the Cy Young and MVP in their respective leagues squared off, it was Mickey Lolich who shined the brightest. The Tiger lefty  was 3-0 with 3 CGs and a 1.67 ERA.  As Gibson outmatched McLain in Game 1 and 4, Lolich topped Gibson in Game 7, as he merely allowed a solo homer in the 9th inning to win the deciding game, 4-1.  

Backstory – Lolich was 17-9 in 1968 with a 3.19 ERA before earning World Series MVP.  In 1971, the lefty won 25 games and also lead the American league with 308 strikeouts.  In 1972, he lead the Tiger’s back to the postseason via his 22 win campaign.  Over his 16 year career, Mickey Lolich was 217-191 with a 3.44 ERA.

 

2001 – Randy Johnson
Arizona Diamondbacks vs New York Yankees

7 Greatest World Series Pitching Performances

As the Big Unit was in his Dominant run of winning 4 Cy Young awards in a row, the very brief aftermath of the 9/11 attacks gave baseball a different perspective.  Especially, as the World Series was in New York for the 4th straight season.  As one of our featured Slider Dominators, he shutout the Yankees in Game 2 of the series with 11 strikeouts.  Then after 3 dramatic games in New York that went in the Yankees favor, Johnson fended off elimination in Game 6, as he gave up 2 ER over 7 IP in the 15-2 blowout victory.  After 104 pitches, the near 7 footer came back in relief the next night in Game 7 to throw 1.1 IP scoreless and record his 3rd win as the Diamondbacks walked off against the Great Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the 9th.

Backstory – The Hall of Fame and owner of Mr. Snappy, was 21-6 in 2001 with an ERA of 2.49 and a mind boggling 372 strikeouts!  He was 5-1 in the postseason that year with a 1.57 ERA as he added World Series Co-MVP, along with Curt Schilling, to his hardware collection.  For his Career, the Mulleted Warrior owns a career record of 303-166 and a 3.29 ERA over 22 seasons.  Not to mention, 5 total Cy Young Awards.  His 100MPH fastball and devastating Slider are responsible for his 4875 strikeouts.  Placing him 2nd on the all time list and most ever by a LHP.

  

2014 – Madison Bumgarner
San Francisco Giants vs Kansas City Royals

7 Greatest World Series Pitching Performances

As a young staple of the Giants pitching staff in their recent string of WS Titles, Mad Bum stole the show in 2014.  Coming off the NLCS MVP, Bumgarner went 7IP strong in Game 1 to win 3-1.  He threw a 4 hit shutout in Game 5 on 117 pitches.  He returned in relief 3 days later, in the 5th inning of Game 7 to hurl a seemingly easy scoreless 5 innings to earn the save.  Aside from an outfield miscue with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th that put the tying run 90 feet away, the big lumberjack lefty retired the next hitter to seal the Giants 3rd championship in 5 seasons. All by the age of 25 for him.

Backstory – Needless to say, Bumgarner received every possible post-season award in 2014, (NLCS MVP, World Series MVP, Babe Ruth Award).  He went 4-1, 1 Save, 1.03 ERA in 52.2IP.  In the Do or Die, Winner Take All Wild Card Game, he threw shutouts in both 2014 and 2016.  In his 3 World Series appearances, he is 4-0 with a 0.25 ERA.  That is the lowest ever for eligible pitchers.  That includes everyone on this list.  His Big Game reputation has placed him as the #1 on our Team USA starting rotation.

 

Honorable Mention

1912 Smokey Joe Wood

Boston Red Sox vs New York Giants

Smokey Joe went 3-1 in the Old Fashioned Best of 9 World Series.  After losing Game 7, he got the win in relief the next day in the clinching game 8, with a walk off win against previously mentioned, Christy Mathewson.

 

1921 – Waite Hoyt

New York Yankees vs New York Giants

After Clinching the their 1st ever Pennant, the Yankees played the Giants in the Series which never left the Polo Grounds. Waite Hoyt threw 3 complete games without allowing an earned run.  He won Games 2 and 5 and was the extremely hard luck loser in the clinching Game 8 for the Giants.  As he gave up an unearned run in the 1st inning, which was the only run of the game.  

 

1926 – Grover Cleveland Alexander

St. Louis Cardinals vs New York Yankees

The 373 game winning Hall of Fame pitcher lead the St. Louis Cardinals to their 1st ever World Series Title.  Old Pete won Games 2 and 6 in the usual CG fashion of the time.  The 39 year old was called on Game 7 to relieve, despite a sore arm and a hangover.  He threw 2.1 scoreless while protecting a 1 run lead.  The final out came as Babe Ruth was caught attempting to steal 2B.  

 

1988 – Orel Hershiser

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Oakland Athletics

This was very difficult to leave off the main list.  1988 was Orel Hershiser’s Year.  The National League Cy Young Winner, he finished the season with 59 scoreless innings, NLCS MVP, and World Series MVP….although, every one only remembers Kurt Gibson’s Homerun.

 

1991 – Jack Morris

Minnesota Twins vs Atlanta Braves

Also extremely difficult to leave off of the main list.  In what may have been the single greatest World Series Pitching performance ever, Jack Morris threw a 10 Inning, 1-0 shutout victory over the Braves in the clinching game 7. The 3 time World Champ was 2-0 in 3 starts with a 1.17 ERA earning Series MVP.

 

Did we miss any off the list? Please let us know in the comments below!

Keep Dominating!!!

7 Greatest W

orld Series Pitching Performances

About the Author

Brad Kirsch Slider DominationBrad Kirsch is the Owner/Creator of Slider Domination. He is a former professional pitcher who blogs about all things Pitching. Brad has also authored the AudioBook, 7 Reasons Why YOU Should Throw a Slider. If you haven’t done so already, you can Download the AudioBook Here

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