Matt Moore and the 10 Best Playoff Debuts in Baseball History

Scott SewellCorrespondent IOctober 1, 2011

Matt Moore and the 10 Best Playoff Debuts in Baseball History

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    Matt Moore took the baseball world by storm on Friday by tossing seven shutout, two-hit innings in his first postseason start.  In fact, this was just the second start of the youngster’s big league career.  

    Moore has steadily climbed through the Rays minor league system since being drafted in the eighth round in 2007. 

    His 2011 minor league campaign gave the Rays plenty of reason to feel comfortable starting the rookie in Game 1 of the ALDS.

    Moore went a combined 12-3 with AA Montgomery and AAA Durham with a 1.92 ERA, 0.948 WHIP and 210 Ks in 155.0 IP.

    Read that last line again, I’ll wait.

    (Waiting...)

    Wow!  Can you believe that?  That's 210 Ks in 155.0 IP.  Moore is the real deal and he showed why on Friday.

    As amazing as Moore’s performance was, it surprisingly isn’t among the top 10 or even top 20 debuts in Major League Baseball history.  In fact, Moore’s game score only ranks as the 56th all-time for pitchers making their first postseason start.

    Let’s take a look at 10 pitchers who had even more impressive postseason debuts than Moore.

10. Mike Boddicker: October 6th, 1983

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    Mike Boddicker was 16-8 in 1983 with 10 complete games and a league-leading five shutouts, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that he picked up where he left off when the postseason began.

    Boddicker faced off against the Chicago White Sox in Game 2 of the ALCS and the White Sox never had a chance.

    Boddicker pitched nine innings, allowing just five hits and striking out 14 batters.  He had a game score of 88 which is tied with Bobby Jones, Jim Lonborg and Bill James for 10th all-time.

9. Hod Eller: October 6th, 1919

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    Hod Eller was the starting pitcher of Game 5 of the 1919 World Series.  It was Eller's first ever postseason start, and little did he know that the "fix was in" on the other side of the diamond.

    The 1919 World Series will forever be known for its Black Sox Scandal, so we have to look at Eller's Game 5 performance with a bit of suspicion.  

    However, it did end up being one of the best postseason debuts in baseball history.

    Eller pitched a complete game shutout over the White Sox, while giving up only three hits and striking out nine.  His game score was 89.

    Was the performance the result of Eller's pitching skills or the White Sox's "throwing" skills?

8. Jon Matlack: October 7th, 1973

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    Jon Matlack was a young 23-year-old starting pitcher when he faced off against the Big Red Machine of the Cincinnati Reds in 1973.  

    Matlack shut down their star-studded lineup in Game 2 of the NLCS by pitching nine scoreless innings, while allowing no runs and only three hits.  

    Matlack had a game score of 89, good for a three-way, seventh place tie in the best postseason debut of all time.

7. Kevin Millwood: October 6th, 1999

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    Remember back in 1999 when everyone thought Kevin Millwood was about to become the face of the next generation of great Braves pitchers?

    Millwood burst onto the scene by winning 17 games in 1998, and then followed that up with an 18-win season in 1999.  Millwood even finished third in Cy Young voting that year.

    He didn't slow down in his first postseason start either.

    Millwood completely dominated the Jeff Bagwell led Houston Astros in Game 2 of the NLDS.  The Astros were only able to get one hit off of Millwood, a solo home run from Ken Caminiti.

    His final line was nine IP, one hit, one ER, eight Ks, with a game score of 89. 

6. Bill Dinneen: October 2nd, 1903

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    Bill Dinneen pitched one of the greatest games in postseason history in just the second postseason game ever.

    Dinneen started for the Boston Red Sox in Game 2 of the 1903 World Series against Honus Wagner and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    Dinneen's Red Sox won the game 3-0 behind his spectacular day on the mound.  He pitched a complete game shutout, striking out 11 and only allowing three hits.  

    Dinneen's game score was 90, which is now tied with Mike Scott for fifth all-time.

5. Mike Scott: October 8th, 1986

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    Mike Scott battled Doc Gooden in Game 1 of the 1986 NLCS in his first ever postseason start.  This was a matchup between two of the game's very best pitchers and Scott ended up with the better day.

    The Astros won the game 1-0 behind Scott's complete game shutout, that saw the Mets batters strike out 14 times and only amass a total of five hits.

    Scott's game score was 90, which is tied for fifth all-time with the aforementioned Bill Dinneen.

4. Ed Walsh: October 11th, 1906

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    Ed Walsh only pitched in two postseason games in his entire career, but he made the first one count.

    Walsh started Game 3 of the 1906 World Series for the Chicago White Sox against their crosstown rival the Chicago Cubs.

    Note: It's not very often you get to type Cubs and World Series in the same sentence without also using the word "not."

    Walsh pitched a complete game shutout, striking out 12 Cubs hitters and only allowing two hits.  His game score of 94 is tied with Roy Halladay as the third highest ever for a postseason debut.

3. Roy Halladay: October 6th, 2010

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    Roy Halladay was an elite starting pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays for several years, but the ultra- competitive AL East kept him out of the postseason until he went to the Phillies.

    His first ever postseason performance was well worth the wait.

    Halladay pitched a no-hitter on October 6th, 2010 in the Phillies 4-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.  Halladay walked only one batter, while striking out eight.

    His performance ranks as the third greatest debut in history with a game score of 94.

2. Tim Lincecum: October 7th, 2010

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    Roy Halladay owned the rights to the title of second greatest postseason debut in baseball history for exactly one day.

    Tim Lincecum made his debut the next night and pitched an even more impressive game, earning a game score of 96.

    Lincecum pitched a complete game shutout against the Atlanta Braves, striking out 14 batters while only allowing two hits.

    Lincecum would continue his dominance throughout the postseason to earn his first World Series ring in 2010 as well.

1. Babe Ruth: October 9th, 1916

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    Ruth had one plate appearance in the 1915 World Series, but he got his first actual start on October 9th, 1916 against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

    Ruth was pitching for the Boston Red Sox in Game 2 of the World Series when he turned in the highest debut game score in postseason history with a 97.

    Ruth pitched a complete 14-inning game, earning the win and only giving up one run.

    Babe Ruth is the greatest ball player in the history of the sport, and quite possibly in the history of all sports.

    Fittingly, he had the greatest postseason debut as well. 

     

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