One year ago, at just 23 years old, Yordano Ventura became one of the youngest pitchers to start a World Series game in the last 30 years. The presence of a young starter in the World Series is not a completely rare phenomenon, naturally. Ventura, for his part, was the 64th pitcher in Series history to make a start before turning 24 years old, per Baseball Reference Play Index. Noah Syndergaard is set to be the 65th when the two face off this evening. Widening the criteria a little, one finds that 105 pitchers have made World Series starters before turning 25 years old. Ventura, now one year older, is set to be one of just 19 pitchers to make a start in two different World Series’ before turning 25, a list including Babe Ruth and, over the last 30 years including, only Madison Bumgarner and Steve Avery. Tonight’s encounter between Syndergaard and Ventura represents one of the better young pitching matchups in World Series history.
Over the last three decades, the only pitchers younger than the 2014 edition of Ventura to record a start in a World Series game were Avery, Bumgarner, Dwight Gooden, Livan Hernandez, Bret Saberhagen, Michael Wacha, and Jaret Wright. Noah Syndergaard, a few months younger than Ventura was last year, is set to join that list. The giant Mets right-hander has struck out 20 batters in 13 postseason innings thus far and looks to do what his counterparts could not as the Kansas City Royals have proven difficult to strike out.
While 105 pitchers under the age of 25 have made starts in the World Series, it’s quite rare to find two young hurlers pitted against each other. In the last 15 years, it has happened only twice: Madison Bumgarner against Tommy Hunter in 2010 and Cole Hamels against Scott Kazmir in 2008. In all of World Series history, there have only been 24 such matchups and only 19 if you remove repeat matchups in the same series. The chart below shows every World Series matchup sorted by average age.
World Series Matchups Featuring Pitchers Under 25
SOURCE: Baseball Reference
The encounter between Dave Righetti and Fernando Valenzuela back in 1981, when the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the New York Yankees, represents the youngest such matchup of all tim . Only two of the young-pitcher games have occurred in a Game Two: Jeff Tesrau’s Giants team defeated Boston’s Smokey Joe Wood in 1912 and Dizzy Dean’s St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Tigers’ Elden Auker in 1934. If the Mets and Royals get to a Game Seven and the rotation stays as is, Noah Syndergaard against Yordano Ventura would become just the third such matchup of all-time and the first in more than 80 years.
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