Ranking Every World Series Game 7 Pitching Matchup

Two Cy Young Award winners have never matched up in Game 7 of the World Series before. Zack Greinke and Max Scherzer are unlikely to win that award this season, but they are still at relative high-points in their careers; Scherzer’s 6.5 WAR ranked fourth among pitchers this season, while Greinke’s 5.4 was not that far behind and put him ninth.

This is the 40th Game 7 in history. Here are the best pitchers ever to pitch in a Game 7, by their WAR in the season during which they started that year’s final game.

Best World Series Game 7 Pitchers
Year Team Player WAR
1965 Dodgers Sandy Koufax 10
1968 Cardinals Bob Gibson 8.6
1945 Tigers Hal Newhouser 8.2
2001 D-backs Curt Schilling 7.2
1934 Cardinals Dizzy Dean 6.6
2019 Nationals Max Scherzer 6.5
1985 Cardinals John Tudor 6.4
1985 Royals Bret Saberhagen 6.2
1912 Giants Christy Mathewson 6.2
1964 Cardinals Bob Gibson 5.8
1967 Red Sox Jim Lonborg 5.7
2001 Yankees Roger Clemens 5.6
1940 Tigers Bobo Newsom 5.6
1982 Cardinals Joaquin Andujar 5.5
1940 Reds Paul Derringer 5.5
2019 Astros Zack Greinke 5.4
1987 Twins Frank Viola 5.4
1931 A’s George Earnshaw 5.1
1973 A’s Ken Holtzman 5
1958 Braves Lew Burdette 5
1956 Dodgers Don Newcombe 5
WAR in the season during which they started a Game 7.

The only pitcher with a WAR higher than Scherzer’s whose team didn’t win Game 7 was Bob Gibson, who pitched six shutout innings before giving up three runs in the seventh of what would eventually be a 4-1 loss. In terms of matchups, here’s a scatter plot of all 80 starters:

As for how to rank them, I prefer geometric mean so that one extreme number doesn’t outweigh two good ones. Here are all 40 matchups:

Ranking All 40 World Series Game 7 Pitching Matchups
Rank Year Matchup AL AL SP WAR NL NL SP WAR AVG GEO MEAN
1 1965 Dodgers v Twins Jim Kaat 4.3 Sandy Koufax 10 7.2 6.6
2 2001 Yankees v Dbacks Roger Clemens 5.6 Curt Schilling 7.2 6.4 6.3
3 1985 Cardinals v Royals Bret Saberhagen 6.2 John Tudor 6.4 6.3 6.3
4 2019 Nationals v Astros Zack Greinke 5.4 Max Scherzer 6.5 6 5.9
5 1940 Tigers v Reds Bobo Newsom 5.6 Paul Derringer 5.5 5.6 5.5
6 1968 Tigers v Cardinals Mickey Lolich 3.2 Bob Gibson 8.6 5.9 5.2
7 1967 Cardinals v Red Sox Jim Lonborg 5.7 Bob Gibson 4.3 5 5
8 1945 Tigers v Cubs Hal Newhouser 8.2 Hank Borowy 2.9 5.6 4.9
9 1973 Mets v A’s Ken Holtzman 5 Jon Matlack 4.7 4.9 4.8
10 1934 Cardinals v Tigers Elden Auker 3.4 Dizzy Dean 6.6 5 4.7
11 2016 Indians v Cubs Corey Kluber 4.9 Kyle Hendricks 4.2 4.6 4.5
12 1912 Giants v Red Sox Hugh Bedient 3.1 Christy Mathewson 6.2 4.7 4.4
13 2011 Rangers v Cardinals Matt Harrison 4 Chris Carpenter 4.5 4.3 4.2
14 1987 Cardinals v Twins Frank Viola 5.4 Joe Magrane 2.9 4.2 4
15 1991 Braves v Twins Jack Morris 4.1 John Smoltz 3.7 3.9 3.9
16 1986 Red Sox v Mets Bruce Hurst 4.2 Ron Darling 3.5 3.9 3.8
17 1982 Brewers v Cardinals Pete Vuckovich 2.4 Joaquin Andujar 5.5 4 3.6
18 1962 Yankees v Giants Ralph Terry 4 Jack Sanford 3.2 3.6 3.6
19 1946 Cardinals v Red Sox Dave Ferriss 4.6 Murry Dickson 2.7 3.7 3.5
20 1956 Yankees v Dodgers Johnny Kucks 2.4 Don Newcombe 5 3.7 3.5
21 2017 Astros v Dodgers Charlie Morton 3.1 Yu Darvish 3.7 3.4 3.4
22 1931 A’s v Cardinals George Earnshaw 5.1 Burleigh Grimes 2.2 3.7 3.3
23 1964 Yankees v Cardinals Mel Stottlemeyre 1.8 Bob GIbson 5.8 3.8 3.2
24 1971 Pirates v Orioles Mike Cuellar 2.8 Steve Blass 3.6 3.2 3.2
25 1925 Senators v Pirates Walter Johnson 3.9 Vic Aldridge 2.5 3.2 3.1
26 1975 Reds v Red Sox Bill Lee 3.5 Don Gullett 2.4 3 2.9
27 1958 Yankees v Braves Don Larsen 1.6 Lew Burdette 5 3.3 2.8
28 1979 Pirates v Orioles Scott McGregor 2.8 Jim Bibby 2.5 2.7 2.6
29 1926 Cardinals v Yankees Waite Hoyt 3.6 Jesse Haines 1.8 2.7 2.5
30 2002 Giants v Angels John Lackey 1.9 Livan Hernandez 2.7 2.3 2.3
31 1960 Yankees v Pirates Bob Turley 1.2 Vern Law 4.2 2.7 2.2
32 1909 Pirates v Tigers Bill Donovan 1.4 Babe Adams 2.6 2 1.9
33 1955 Dodgers v Yankees Tommy Byrne 0.9 Johnny Podres 3.6 2.3 1.8
34 1947 Dodgers v Yankees Spec Shea 1.9 Hal Gregg 1.3 1.6 1.6
35 1952 Yankees v Dodgers Ed Lopat 1.2 Joe Black 1.9 1.6 1.5
36 1972 A’s v Reds Blue Moon Odom 0.9 Jack Billingham 2.5 1.7 1.5
37 2014 Giants v Royals Jeremy Guthrie 1 Tim Hudson 1.9 1.5 1.4
38 1997 Indians v Marlins Jaret Wright 1.3 Al Leiter 1.3 1.3 1.3
39 1924 Giants v Senators Curly Ogden 0.6 Virgil Barnes 2.5 1.6 1.2
40 1957 Braves v Yankees Don Larsen 0.5 Lew Burdette 1.9 1.2 1.0

Sandy Koufax’s 10-WAR season was amazing, but Jim Kaat’s 4.2 WAR is a decent number, too. The top two matchups were close affairs, though the 1985 clincher was a blowout. We don’t know how badly Scherzer will be physically compromised heading into tonight, but a tight game with good pitching would be most welcome.





Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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francis_soyer
2 years ago

The added bonus of 2001 was getting Mariano Rivera and Randy Johnson pitching the 9th

Think about it, the best relief pitcher of all-time – and Mariano Rivera too