The MLB postseason is where the magic happens.
And thankfully, we have seen plenty of magicians do their work in October (and November).
However, there may not be a single pitcher who matches up with these three.
3. Madison Bumgarner
Madison Bumgarner is an absolute legend in San Francisco.
He was a key component of a rotation that won three World Series titles from 2010 to 2014, a span of five seasons.
He was great in the postseason as a whole, with a career ERA of 2.11 and an 8-3 record in 102.1 frames.
However, he was a beast in World Series play, with a 0.25 ERA over five starts.
What he did in the 2014 playoffs is nothing short of amazing: he compiled a 4-1 record with a 1.03 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 52.2 innings.
That year, he started Games 1 and 5 of the Fall Classic, allowing a single run; and then came in on short rest in Game 7 to throw five scoreless frames.
— MLB (@MLB) October 30, 2020
Needless to say, Bumgarner was the MVP of that World Series, the last of a really fruitful dynasty.
He may very well be the best postseason starter of our time.
2. Sandy Koufax
If someone topped Bumgarner’s performance in the playoffs, it had to be Sandy Koufax.
Koufax is one of the best left-handers in the history of baseball, with a 2.76 career ERA, three Cy Young awards, and one MVP.
When the calendar flipped to October, however, there was no one like Sandy.
Back in his playing days, there were no Division or Championship Series: the team with the best record in each league advanced to the World Series.
In 57 frames, the southpaw went 4-3 with an amazing 0.95 ERA.
He allowed only 36 hits and 11 walks, while striking out 61 hitters.
He participated in four World Series, winning three (1959, 1963, 1965) and losing one, in 1966.
He was the MVP of the 1963 and 1965 Fall Classics.
Koufax was someone you could certainly trust when stakes were high.
1. Mariano Rivera
The New York Yankees’ dynasty of the late 1990s had several star-level hitters at different points: Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Scott Brosius, Pettitte, David Wells, David Cone, Jorge Posada, Chuck Knoblauch, and many more.
Mariano Rivera may have been the most influential and impactful player of them all.
The “Sandman” has the best postseason ERA in history, with 0.70.
It doesn’t come over a small sample, either: he threw 141 innings!
Mariano also has the most October saves, with 42.
He was as reliable as they come, and sealed many of the Yankees’ triumphs in the nineties, 2000s, and 2010s.
He is, so far, the only player to be elected unanimously to the Hall of Fame, appearing on each ballot.
Mariano Rivera went from 19-year-old position player in Panama to collecting the most saves in MLB history.
— ESPN (@espn) July 21, 2019
A warrior on the mound and a true gentleman off the field, Rivera is, without a doubt, the best postseason pitcher in MLB history.