When Madison Bumgarner did what he did in the 2014 playoffs I told my self that's it, he's the best post-season/clutch pitcher I'll ever see. That's a dangerous way to think, because it doesn't allow for anyone who comes after him to approach his status. His performance is already stuff of legends and it's only been a few years. I remember him being lights out but what he really THAT good?
Bumgarner's 2014 post-season: 52 2/3 innings (!!), 45 strikeouts, 1.03 ERA, two complete game shutouts, and a save in Game 7 of the WS where he pitched five shutout innings out of the pen on just two days rest. Yup turns out he WAS that good.
Still don't think anyone will equal what he did that year...but Justin Verlander is coming close. His career playoff numbers aren't as good as Bumgarner's but they're still really good:
11-5 record, 3.00 ERA, 123 innings, 136 strikeouts, 36 walks
This post-season, though, man, wow, my goodness he has been great:
4-0 record, 1.46 ERA, 24 2/3 innings, 24 strikeouts, 6 walks
But what jumps out about Verlander as an all time, big game performer are his career numbers in post-season elimination games. When Verlander's back is to the wall and there's no room for error...that's when he's best:
4-1 record, 1.21 ERA, 37 1/3 innings, 41 strikeouts, 9 walks
If the Astros win the World Series we'll definitely start talking about Verlander as a serious Hall of Fame candidate. If the Astros don't win the World Series we should be talking about it anyway. The number one place to go when you want thoughtful, back and forth, analytical discussion on something like this is the Baseball Reddit page.
[googles Justin Verlander Hall of Fame Reddit]
Ah, here we go. The best discussion we find is this Reddit thread from last off-season, where he is already presented with a strong case. I updated his career stats a little bit so we can get the full picture of where we're at now.
-188 wins, 3.46 ERA, 3.47 FIP
-2,416 strikeouts (41st all time)
-56.9 career WAR (72nd all time)
-1 MVP, 1 Cy Young, 1 pitching tripe crown, 1 ROY, 6 time All-Star, 2 no-hitters
-Has led the league in wins once, ERA once, innings three times, strikeouts four times, and WHIP twice
In addition to the 2011 Cy Young award he has finished second twice and third once. In 2012 he lost out to David Price by literally one vote, and in 2016 he lost to Rick Porcello despite receiving more first place votes. Add in all the playoff numbers we've already discussed and if he can get to 250 wins/3,000 strikeouts I'd say we're there.
A World Series is the only thing he's missing, but he definitely doesn't need it to get to Cooperstown. His regular season achievements combined with his growing, legendary playoff status will be enough.