The Los Angeles Dodgers will be represented on the mound by 20-year-old rookie Julio Urias, while the Cubs will be starting 37-year-old right-hander John Lackey. This matchup will represent one of the largest age disparities between starters in postseason history and just the ninth in which the differential was 17 years or more.
1. Rich Harden vs. Kenny Rogers: 17 years, 20 days (6,229 days)
On Oct. 13, 2006, the Athletics, trailing 2-0 in the American League Championship Series, sent Rich Harden (24 years, 317 days old) to the bump in Game 3 against the Tigers’ Kenny Rogers (41 years, 337 days old). Harden allowed three earned runs in 5 2/3 innings and was no match for his senior counterpart. Rogers went 7 1/3 scoreless, leading the Tigers to a 3-0 victory. It was the second of three consecutive scoreless starts for Rogers that postseason; he became the first pitcher with three straight scoreless starts in a single postseason since Christy Mathewson in 1905. Mathewson pitched complete-game shutouts in Game 1, 3 and 5 of the World Series that year.
2. Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Curt Schilling: 17 years, 2 months, 8 days (6,278 days)
On Oct. 25, 2007, the Rockies, down 1-0 in the World Series to the Red Sox, tasked Ubaldo Jimenez (23 years, 276 days old) with evening the series in Game 2. Jimenez struggled with his command and walked five over 4 2/3 innings, but he kept Colorado in the game by allowing just two runs. He was no match for the greatest postseason pitcher of all time, Curt Schilling (40 years, 345 days), who allowed one run in his 5 1/3 innings of work. The Red Sox won the game 2-1 en route to a series sweep.
3. Roger Clemens vs. Don Sutton: 17 years, 4 months, and 2 days (6,333 days)
On Oct. 11, 1986, in Game 4 of the ALCS, the Red Sox sent the eventual AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP, Roger Clemens (24 years, 68 days old), to the mound for a crucial Game 4 with Boston trailing two games to one. The Rocket cruised through the first eight innings, allowing no runs and striking out nine. He was pulled in the ninth after giving up a leadoff home run and allowing two of the next three batters to reach on singles. In all, he was charged with three runs (all earned) in 8 1/3 innings as Boston’s bullpen allowed the inherited runners to score. The Angels got what they needed out of their starter, Don Sutton (41 years, 192 days old), with 6 1/3 innings of one run ball. California went on to win 4-3 and take a 3-1 series lead. The Angels were well on their way to the World Series with a 5-2 lead in the ninth inning of Game 5, but Don Baylor and Dave Henderson helped bring the series back to Boston, where the Sox claimed two lopsided wins and the AL crown.
4. Dwight Gooden vs. Nolan Ryan: 17 years, 9 months, 16 days (6,499 days)
This is my favorite game on the list. Old lion against young lion.
On Oct. 14, 1986, the Mets sent Dwight Gooden (21 years, 332 days old), a Rookie of the Year at 19 and a Cy Young Award winner at 20, up against one of the most feared pitchers in history, Nolan Ryan (39 years and 256 days old), in Game 5 of an NLCS tied at two games apiece. Ryan gave what normally would be an unbeatable performance — he allowed two hits and a walk and struck out 12 over nine innings — but Doc outlasted him. Gooden spun 10 innings of one-run ball. The Mets eventually won 2-1 in 12 innings at Shea Stadium. New York went on to win Game 6 in 16 innings, and later captured the World Series, too.
Who would have thought Ryan would pitch another seven years, until age 46? During his remaining seasons, from 1987-93, he outpitched Gooden, who didn’t turn out to be the Hall of Famer everyone was sure he’d become.
Ryan: 196 starts, 3.33 ERA (116 ERA+), 1,271 2/3 innings, 1,437 strikeouts, 2.86 FIP, 1.148 WHIP
Gooden: 197 starts, 3.44 ERA (105 ERA+), 1,383 2/3 innings, 1,091 strikeouts, 2.95 FIP, 1.236 WHIP
5. Julio Urias vs. John Lackey: 17 years, 9 months, 20 days (6,503 days)
This will be the gap between Urias (20 years, 68 days old) and Lackey (37 years, 362 days old) when they meet up Wednesday. Urias will be making his first career postseason start, while Lackey will be making his 22nd. Lackey’s first postseason start was Oct. 12, 2002, in Game 4 of the ALCS. He went seven innings, struck out seven, and did not allow a run. Later that October, he won Game 7 of the World Series against the Giants. Urias was just 6 years old at the time.
6. John Stuper vs. Phil Niekro: 18 years, 1 month, 8 days (6,613 days)
On Oct. 9, 1982, the Cardinals’ John Stuper (25 years, 153 days old) and the Braves’ Phil Niekro (43 years, 191 days old old) met in Game 2 of the NLCS. Both pitchers allowed two earned runs over six innings, but Stuper’s Cards prevailed. Stuper later hurled a gem in Game 6 of the World Series with the Cardinals trailing the Brewers three games to two. He allowed just one run in a complete-game effort as the Cards won handily 13-1. The next night, St. Louis won Game 7 and captured its first world championship since 1967. The ’67 team was spearheaded by Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, who tossed three complete-game victories against the Red Sox.
7. Bob Wolcott vs. Dennis Martinez: 19 years, 3 months, 25 days (7,057 days)
On Oct. 10, 1995, in Game 1 of the ALCS, the Mariners — after using Randy Johnson for the final three innings of the deciding ALDS game against the Yankees — rolled out rookie Bob Wolcott (22 years, 32 days old) against the heavy-hitting Indians. The durable Dennis Martinez (41 years, 149 days old) got the call for the Indians. Wolcott went seven innings, allowing two runs, and earned an improbable victory against a lineup that featured Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, Eddie Murray, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Paul Sorrento and Sandy Alomar. Martinez took the loss, allowing three runs in 6 1/3 innings.
8. Matt Garza vs. Jamie Moyer: 21 years, 8 days (7,678 days)
On Oct. 25, 2008, in Game 3 of the World Series, the Rays sent Matt Garza (24 years and 334 days old) to the hill with the series tied at a game apiece. The Phillies countered with their most reliable starter not named Cole Hamels, left-hander Jamie Moyer (45 years, 342 days old). Moyer was making his first career World Series start — he is the oldest player in history to make his World Series debut and the second-oldest player (Jack Quinn in 1929 and 1930 at ages 46 and 47) ever to appear in a World Series. Garza surrendered home runs to Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley while allowing four runs in six innings; Moyer allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings. The Phillies took a 2-1 lead in the series that night and, despite a little bit of rain, went on to win their second world championship.
The game turned out to be Moyer’s last postseason appearance, but on May 16, 2012, just six months and two days shy of his 50th birthday, he tossed 6 1/3 innings for the Rockies, allowing just one run, and became the oldest player in baseball history to record a win.
9. Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Jamie Moyer: 21 years, 2 months, 8 days (7,735 days)
On Oct. 6, 2007, the Rockies, up 2-0 in the NLDS, sent Jimenez (23 years, 257 days old) out to finish off the floundering Phillies, who countered with Moyer (44 years, 322 days old). Moyer made his major league debut for the Cubs against Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt and the Phillies on June 16, 1986. Moyer pitched well enough to win; he allowed one run over six innings. The Phillies, though, managed just one run against Jimenez over 6 1/3 innings and failed to even get even a baserunner against the Rockies’ bullpen. Colorado won Game 3, 2-1, and completed the sweep.