Mike Gwizdala's Blog

Roger Clemens is overrated as a post-season starter.  Yes I give him credit for having a lot of guts and trying to give it a go in Game 3 of the ALDS.  However for all the regular season greatness, from the seven Cy Young's to the 350 plus wins and the 4,000 plus strikeouts, Clemens has disappointed in the playoffs on more than a few occasions.

Roger isn't the only geriatric to let the Yanks down in the playoffs (see Kevin Brown and Randy Johnson) and the fact that he gave the team a shot in the arm which Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa and countless rookies couldn't along with imparting his pitching knowledge onto Joba, Phil and Ian is priceless.  However for all of his accolades and accomplishments, if one had to pick a pitcher to start Game Seven of a World Series, Rocket might not be in your top 20.  Certainly not ahead of the likes of Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Walter Johnson, Whitey Ford and Tom Seaver.

Thus let us chronicle the playoff failures of Roger Clemens shall we.

His team has lost 17 of his 34 playoff starts. He's either coughed up leads (8 different games, one in 2002 he blew 3 separate leads), or has left prematurely or controversially.

With Boston during the 1990 ALCS in game 4 at Oakland he gets tossed by umps with two runners on, they score, A's win 3-1 and sweep the series 4-0.  With New York in the 1999 ALCS game 2 at Fenway Park he gets blasted, the Yanks lose 13-1 for their only playoff loss that year.  In the 2001 ALDS game 1 vs. the A's, Clemens gives up solo HR's in 1st and 4th, leaves in 5th with "pulled hammy" Yanks lose 5-3.  In the all important 2003 ALCS game 7 vs. the Red Sox he gets lit for 6 hits and 4 runs in 3 innings.  With Houston during the 2005 World Series game 1 at Chicago, Clemens gives up 3 runs and 4 hits over 2 innings and leaves with a "pulled hammy," (sensing a trend here?)  With the Yankees again most recently in the 2007 ALDS against the Indians, Clemens was unable to get out of the 3rd inning with a pulled hammy, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits.  Which could've prompted Suzyn Waldman to say "Oh my God, Roger Clemens is sitting on an ice box!"  You know for that busted hammy. 

In six of his playoff starts Clemens has blown 2-0 leads: With the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series game 6 at Shea Stadium against the Mets, 1988 ALCS game 2 vs. the A's, 1995 ALDS at Cleveland.  With the Yankees during the 2000 ALDS game 1 at Oakland, 2002 ALDS game 1 vs. the Angels.  With Houston in the 2004 NLCS game 7 at St. Louis, 2005 NLDS game 2 at Atlanta, 2005 NLCS game 3 vs. the Cardinals.

His teams have a 2-4 record in World Series.  He has a 4.61 ERA in Division Series play.  Left game 4 of the 2003 World Series at Florida, losing.  Had a 13.50 ERA in 2005 World Series against Chicago.  Is only a career 4-4 in LDS play, 5-4 in LCS play.  Has only 1 complete game and one shutout in 33 career playoff starts. Don't get me wrong great regular season pitcher, mediocre playoff pitcher.

And no doubt Clemens has pitched teams to the playoffs. However aside from his 2000 ALCS and World Series, (you know the one where he threw the bat at Piazza), his playoff numbers haven't quite lived up to the regular season. He essentially piggy-backed onto the Yankee dynasty after they won 125 games in 1998 and he's never won a post-season MVP award. As much as it pains me as a Yankee fan, in the playoffs I'd take Curt Schilling over him in a heartbeat to win a big game. Rocket needs to prove more.

The playoff stats and record bear it out, Clemens is overrated in the playoffs. He's never even won more than 1 game in a playoff series. Has seven post season series where his ERA in that series was over 5.00. His last three post season starts he has three strikeouts combined. He wasn't able to win a game in the 2001, 2003, or 2005 World Series. He won an MVP and Cy Young award in 1986 and couldn't win a game in the World Series against the Mets. He's certainly wasn't a lock this time around in the 2007 playoffs. 

So Roger thanks for the memories, but we've got plenty of young pitching for 2008.


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