Zach Greinke

World Series Game 7 serves as reminder of Madison Bumgarner's greatness

World Series Game 7 serves as reminder of Madison Bumgarner's greatness

The World Series is going to a Game 7, and both the Astros and Nationals pitching staffs are loaded with starters that both teams should feel comfortable giving the ball to in the winner-take-all game on Wednesday.

But none of them are Madison Bumgarner.

Zack Greinke. Max Scherzer. Gerrit Cole. Stephen Strasburg. Justin Verlander. That's a who's who of future Hall of Fame starters.

But none of them are the best postseason pitcher of all time.

It's not even debatable at this point. When it comes to playoff baseball, there has never been a more clutch pitcher than Bumgarner, as he proved time and time again throughout the Giants' dynasty.

Now, you can be sure that both Houston manager A.J. Hinch and Nationals manager Dave Martinez will have the utmost confidence in Greinke and Scherzer, who are expected to start Game 7 for their respective sides. After all, the two pitchers have combined for four Cy Young awards, 12 All-Star appearances and been worth a combined 125.4 wins above replacement over the course of their careers.

But if you hooked the managers up to a polygraph and asked them if they would rather have their guy or Bumgarner taking the mound Wednesday, they'd either give the correct answer, or the needles would be jumping all over the place.

You don't have to go back any further than the last time MadBum took the ball in a World Series game to confirm his relative superiority.

Exactly five years prior to the Nationals' Game 6 victory on Tuesday, pitching on only one day of rest, Bumgarner came out of the bullpen and threw five scoreless innings to close out San Francisco's Game 7 victory over the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 World Series. It was the culmination of the greatest postseason performance in MLB history, as Bumgarner laid waste to the competition throughout those playoffs, posting a 1.03 ERA with 45 strikeouts over 52.2 dominant innings, including two complete-game shutouts.

To take it a step further, over five career World Series appearances, Bumgarner has an utterly ridiculous 0.25 ERA.

You can't top that.

Both Greinke and Scherzer surely will try, and even if they fall short, that's no knock against them. Rather, it would serve as a reminder of the historical greatness that Bumgarner so often provided to the Giants in their greatest times of need.

Bumgarner will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and while he's not the same pitcher he was throughout the three World Series runs, he proved this season that he still has plenty left in the tank. The Giants aren't the same team they were during those runs, either, but then again, they snuck into the Wild Card Game in 2014, and we know how that turned out.

[RELATED: Giants' 2019 roster churn was historic, but led to keepers]

No one would fault Bumgarner if he decided to leave San Francisco in free agency. He's earned that right, and deserves the chance to showcase his postseason mastery again at some point.

The Giants certainly will try to keep him, just as both the Astros and Nationals gladly would take him for Wednesday if they could.

MLB trade deadline: Winners, losers include Giants, Yankees on big day

MLB trade deadline: Winners, losers include Giants, Yankees on big day

There was very little in the way of significant action before the MLB trade deadline passed Wednesday. Afterward, though, was quite a different story.

In the 30 minutes after the deadline passed, a flurry of moves was announced, providing the mass chaos that many had expected would occur with so many prominent names said to be available.

Most of those prominent names stayed with their incumbent teams. But a select few stole the headlines, and dictated which teams won the trade deadline, and which ones lost.

Winners

Astros

Houston won the trade deadline. Full stop.

If the Astros weren't the prohibitive favorites entering the deadline, they certainly emerged from it with that designation after acquiring Zack Greinke in a trade with the Diamondbacks. While Houston sent quite a haul of prospects to Arizona, the Astros managed to add Greinke without giving up top prospect Kyle Tucker, and even got the Diamondbacks to send $24 million over as part of the deal to help offset Greinke's massive contract.

Greinke, by the way, is 10-4 so far this season with a 2.87 ERA and 128 strikeouts and 141 innings. He now joins a rotation that includes Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander.

Good luck with that, American League.

Giants

In Farhan, we trust.

How can you not at this point? After making several adjustments to San Francisco's roster over the last few months, many of which have played a critical role in the Giants' recent surge back to relevancy, Zaidi carried that momentum into Wednesday's trade deadline and ran with it. Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith and Tony Watson -- all rumored to be on the move for months -- are still Giants.

Sam Dyson is gone, but for him, Zaidi got three prospects from the Twins, including a 24-year-old outfielder who has batted .331 and hit 15 home runs in 41 games with AAA-Rochester this season.

Zaidi somehow managed to unload the entirety of the $19 million remaining on Mark Melancon's contract to the Braves, and got two players in return, including Atlanta's No. 17 overall prospect.

Drew Pomeranz has been a revelation in San Francisco's bullpen over the last two weeks, and Zaidi convinced the Brewers to trade for him (and quadruple-A reliever Ray Black) for their No. 3 prospect, middle infielder Mauricio Dubon.

Dubon should arrive in the majors sooner rather than later, but in the meantime, Scooter Gennett -- whom San Francisco acquired from Cincinnati for cash considerations -- figures to provide the Giants a boost at second base.

In each situation, Zaidi dealt from a position of strength and managed to improve the team's future outlook, all without ruining its chances in the present. 

Cubs

In a wide-open NL Central, Chicago went for it.

In the waning minutes of the deadline, the Cubs acquired Nick Castellanos from the Tigers for two pitching prospects, including their 2018 first-round pick. Castellanos was well worth that cost, though, as he now slides into what was already a fairly stacked Cubs lineup.

Castellanos, 27, fits Chicago's timeline, can play both the infield and the outfield and also leads all players with 37 doubles this season. Wrigley Field is far more hitter-friendly than Comerica, so expect some of those doubles to turn into homers in the second half. Castellanos absolutely mashes lefties, slashing .347/.415/.611 against southpaws, and he makes the Cubs the favorite to claim the division title.

Losers

Yankees

New York did nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

In dire need of a starting-pitching upgrade, the Yankees elected to stand pat, and now the gap between them and the Astros has grown considerably. They had a tremendous opportunity to compete for a World Series title in a couple of months, and while they still have a decent chance, they likely will be kicking themselves come October.

The Astros got Greinke. In a deadline when frontline starters like Bumgarner, Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman and Robbie Ray were said to be available, the Yankees decided, "Nah, we're good."

Nah, they're actually not.

Dodgers

Much like the Yankees, one wonders if the Dodgers' failure to acquire adequate reinforcements at the deadline will cost them a championship.

Los Angeles had an obvious need in the bullpen. The Dodgers did add a reliever -- Adam Kolarek was acquired from the Rays -- but he's not the difference-maker needed, having posted a 3.95 ERA over 43.1 innings so far this season.

Jedd Gyorko? Offense is not Los Angeles' problem, and he doesn't provide much of it anyway.

The Dodgers have talented prospects coming out of their ears. They have the best team in the National League, and one of the two best teams in all of baseball. Maybe they already were so far ahead of the competition that they didn't need to add anything, but come October, they'll deserve all the flack -- and then some -- if the bullpen falters in yet another heartbreaking postseason exit.

[RELATED: MadBum era lives on: Ace stays in SF as deadline passes]

Cardinals

After being .500 at the All-Star break, St. Louis has gone 13-5 since. As a reward for getting back into playoff contention, the front office went out and added ... Tony Cingrani?

Huh?

Cingrani came over in the trade with the Dodgers for Gyorko. He hasn't pitched this year, and is out for the rest of the season recovering from labrum surgery. So, no, he won't be contributing to a Cardinals' postseason run.

St. Louis had multiple needs, but none bigger than a starter. There were plenty of quality starters to be had, but in the end, the Cardinals stuck with the same rotation that has Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas as its Nos. 1 and 2 starters.

That's not going to cut it in the postseason, and given the moves of the teams they're competing with, they'll be lucky to get there at all.