Since we are knee-deep in postseason play, it is time for us to celebrate a player who stood out during Major League Baseball’s biggest stages. At face value, his career numbers are a little underwhelming. A 168-129 overall regular season record with a 3.95 ERA is not the stuff of legends. However, it was a seven year span from 1987-1993 that Dave Stewart dominated and no more so than when the calendar turned to October. Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a catcher in the 1975 draft, Stewart finally stuck with the Dodgers in 1981, pitching in 32 games and registering six saves during LA’s 1981 World Series Championship. It wasn’t until 1986 when “Smoke” arrived with the Oakland A’s that his dominant period began.
When he came to the A’s, Stew was transformed from reliever to starter. He went 9-5 to close out the ’86 season and went to work on the forkball which would become his signature pitch. Remarkably, Stewart would win at least 20 games per season over the next four years. Sicne then, only a handful of pitchers have had even back-to-back 20 win seasons. It was the playoffs where Dave Stewart excelled, establishing himself as one of the best big game hurlers. He owns a lifetime 10-6 mark with an excellent 2.77 ERA. Capturing two LCS MVP awards, one with Oakland in 1990 and the other with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993, Stewart’s lifetime ALCS record is an outstanding 8-0 with a 2.03 ERA. However, his excellence was not limited to the ALCS. Smoke was named the 1989 World Series MVP as the A’s won their first Championship in 16 years. Overall in Fall Classic play, the record is a below average 2-4 but the ERA is a respectable 3.32. Perhaps the biggest testament to Stew’s toughness and competitiveness, is that in 18 postseason starts, he averaged almost 7 2/3 innings per outing.
They don’t make pitchers like Dave Stewart any more. He is one of the few and perhaps the only player to win World Series titles with three different teams (1981 Dodgers, 1989 A’s and 1993 Blue Jays). One other little note about him: he was 9-1 lifetime against Roger Clemens. Don’t be deceived by the record. Dave Stewart is one of the winningest pitchers in our lifetime.
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