World Series Recap Game 5: A Playoff Legend Is Born
It's generally agreed that the true test of a baseball player's worth and effectiveness is during the course of a 162-game season. It is during that marathon of playing baseball games almost every day, for half a calendar year, that it is best to gauge just how good someone really is.
But legends are generally not made in April. They generally are not made in mid-July or at the All Star Game. They aren't even really made in the heat of a pennant race.
No, October is where baseball legends truly come to life. And after his incredible performance in Game 5 of the World Series Sunday night, the Giants' Madison Bumgarner has officially reached "legendary" status.
Bugmarner's complete game shutout was masterful, giving up just four hits and no walks with eight strikeouts, helping propel San Francisco to a 5-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals. It also gave the Giants a 3 games to 2 lead in the World Series, with the chance to clinch their third world championship in five years Tuesday night in Kansas City.
During the regular season, Bumgarner had a nERD of 2.01, 10th best in all of baseball. That meant that, over the course of a 27-out game, Bumgarner would have given up 2.01 runs a game less than a league average pitcher. His 2.98 ERA was 14th best in the National League this season, his Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) of 3.6 was 8th best, his strikeout percentage (25.1%) was 6th best and his stikeout-to-walk ratio (20.2%) was 3rd best.
But what Bumgarner has done in the postseason this year is simply unbelievable.
Among pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched in a single postseason, Bumgarner's 1.13 ERA ranks 5th all-time. Among pitchers to throw at least 25 innings in World Series play, his 0.29 ERA is the best of all time. He's pitched in three World Series now (2010, '12 and '14) and has given up one run in 31 innings. Bumgarner likely made his last start of the playoffs last night, and his 47.2 innings pitched this October is the second-most ever in a single postseason (Curt Schilling pitched 48.1 innings in 2001 for the Diamondbacks).
You think we're done with these amazing stats? Oh, we're not done, friends.
Bumgarner joined Curt Schilling as the only pitchers to throw at least seven innings in each of their six starts in a single postseason. He tossed the first complete game shutout since Josh Beckett's series-clinching win against the Yankees in 2003. His Game Score of 87 made last night's effort one of the top 20 starts in World Series history, tied for the second best since 1969. And he's the first pitcher in World Series history to toss a shutout with no walks while striking out at least 8.
The Royals never had a chance last night.
And if the Royals manage to force a Game 7, there is a good chance you'll see Bumgarner again.
The Giants are now in a terrific spot. Of the previous 63 times a team has led the World Series 3-2, they've gone on to win it all 42 times (66.7%), and 25 times (39.7%), those winning teams took care of business in Game 6.
Of course, for Kansas City, they get to go home and face the two starting pitchers they beat earlier in the series. Up first in Game 6 is Jake Peavy, who in Game 2 lasted just five innings and and gave up four runs on six hits and two walks in the Royals' 7-2 win. Peavy has not finished the sixth inning in eight straight postseason starts and has a 1-5 record and a 6.42 ERA in his career at Kauffman Stadium. He'll be opposed by Yordano Ventura, who lasted 5.1 innings and gave up two runs on eight hits in K.C.'s Game 2 win.
Should the Royals push the Series to a deciding Game 7, Tim Hudson will take the hill for the Giants. He didn't pitch badly in Game 3, giving up three runs on four hits in 5.2 innings, but the dreaded sixth inning was his undoing. Hudson has to keep the ball down, as batters hit .290 against him during the regular season when he left his pitches up in the zone (info courtesy of Baseball Savant). The Royals' Jeremy Guthrie, who lasted just five innings in Game 3 and gave up two runs on four hits, would likely get the start for Kansas City.
Not to be lost in last night's deserved love-fest for Bumgarner was the performance of James Shields, who turned in a very effective six inning performance in which he gave up just two runs on eight hits. The Giants did much of their damage against super relievers Kelvin Herrera, getting him for two runs in the seventh, as well as an unearned run off Wade Davis in the eighth.
Pablo Sandoval tallied another two hits, and is hitting .364 in the World Series. Among players with at least 40 career Fall Classic at bats, his .390 batting average is tied for 7th all-time. Hunter Pence also tallied two hits and is hitting .474 in the World Series, while Brandon Crawford knocked in three runs and pinch hitter Juan Perez, grieving the loss of his friend Oscar Taveras who died tragically in a car crash on Sunday, came through with a huge two-run double.
So now, the series shifts back to K.C. for Game 6 on Tuesday, as the Royals try to continue their magical run for one more day. It'll be tough, as San Francisco currently sits with 77.5% odds to win the World Series, per our metrics.
In the meantime, we have two days to marvel at baseball's new postseason hero.