MLB Power Ranking: The Top 10 Postseason Pitchers Available
The four teams vying for World Series berths have one thing in common: They each have (at least) one of the greatest pitchers in recent postseason history.
Some are already postseason legends, while others are just beginning to etch their place in history.
The Giants-Phillies series has elicited the most reaction regarding sheer pitching prowess, but the other teams possess two of the top postseason pitchers of all time.
Many great pitchers buckle under the pressure of the playoff atmosphere, these guys feed off of it.
Here are the top 10 postseason pitchers available...
10. Jose Contreras
Contreras makes the list based on his performance in the 2005 postseason when he was pitching for the Chicago White Sox. In four starts he amassed 32 innings, one complete game, three wins and had a 3.09 ERA while walking only two. The White Sox went on to capture their third World Series title.
Career postseason statistics: 4-3 with a 3.72 ERA.
9. Roy Halladay
He's a surefire Hall of Famer, is in line to win his second Cy Young Award and pitched one of the greatest games in postseason history. But a pitcher is only as good as his most recent outing, and against the Giants, Halladay was sub par.
Career postseason statistics: 1-1, 15 K's, and a 2.25 ERA
8. Matt Cain
The still relatively unknown Cain has been stellar in his first two career postseason starts. Perhaps offended by manager Bruce Bochy's decision to start Jonathan Sanchez over him in Game 2, Cain tore through the Phillies lineup Tuesday, giving up only two hits in seven scoreless innings. Against the Braves he went 6 2/3 innings, yielding one unearned run.
Career postseason statistics: 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA.
7. Roy Oswalt
Oswalt recently capped off one of his best postseason performances Sunday against the Giants. In eight innings he surrendered only one run and struck out nine. In 2005 Oswalt was awarded the NLCS MVP as a member of the Houston Astros.
Career postseason statistics: 5-0 with a 3.47 ERA.
6. Tim Lincecum
"The Freak" followed his 14-strikeout, complete-game masterpiece against the Braves by keeping the Phillies' bats at bay and outperforming Halladay. He went seven innings, gave up three runs and struck out eight.
Career postseason statistics: 2-0, 22 K's and a 1.69 ERA.
5. Brad Lidge
With all the big pitching names in the Giants-Phillies series, Lidge is somewhat of afterthought. Given his postseason resume, it's hard to see why. In 2008, Lidge was instrumental to Philadelphia's playoff run and finished with seven saves and a 0.96 ERA. In 2004, as a member of the Astros, he had 20 K's in 12 1/3 innings and a 0.73 ERA.
Career postseason statistics: 17 saves, 58 K's and a 2.40 ERA.
4. Cole Hamels
Even though he was outdueled by Cain in Tuesday's loss to the Giants, when Philadelphia made its World Series run in 2008, Hamels had one of the best postseasons in recent baseball history. In five starts for the Phils, he pitched 35 innings, was 4-0 and had a 1.80 ERA with 30 K's. He won the NLCS and World Series MVPs that year.
Career postseason statistics: 6-4 with a 3.83 ERA.
3. Andy Pettitte
Pettitte is one of those players that relishes the postseason spotlight. He's fiercely competitive and will do whatever he can to help his team win. In 2003, Pettitte had his most efficient playoff run, racking up three wins with a 2.10 ERA. He's had seven postseasons with at least two wins and in 2001 he was awarded the ALCS MVP.
Career postseason statistics: 19-10 with a 3.83 ERA.
2. Cliff Lee
In just two postseasons, Cliff Lee has cemented himself as one of the top playoff pitchers of all time. This October, Lee has averaged eight innings pitched, over 11 K's and a ridiculous 0.75 ERA in three starts, all resulting in wins. In 2009, he averaged just over eight innings pitched, over 8 K's, two complete games and 1.56 ERA in five starts, with four wins.
Career postseason statistics: 7-0, 67 K's and a 1.26 ERA.
1. Mariano Rivera
Even at 40, Rivera is the last person opposing teams want to see coming out of the bullpen, especially in the postseason. As great as the Yankees closer has been throughout his regular-season career, when the playoffs begin, the guy is virtually unhittable. He holds postseason records for saves and ERA. In 1999 he was named the World Series MVP and was also awarded the 2003 ALCS MVP.
Career postseason statistics: 42 saves, 109 K's and a 0.72 ERA.