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6 Most Dominant Relief Appearances by Starters in MLB Playoff History

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29:  Buster Posey #28 and Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series by a score of 3-2 at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

In today's MLB playoffs, we're seeing more starters used out of the bullpen than ever before. Of course, it's not going that well, in all honesty. There are some exceptions, but it's not easy for a starter to immerse himself in a new situation during a big October game.

In celebration of it, here are six of the most dominant relief appearances by a starter in MLB playoff history.

6. Stephen Strasburg (2019)

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals throws a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers during the sixth inning in the National League Wild Card game at Nationals Park on October 01, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Wild Card Round - Milwaukee Brewers v Washington Nationals | Rob Carr/Getty Images

This just happened, so it's fresh on our mind. In a win-or-go-home scenario in the NL Wild Card Game this year, Washington Nationals ace starter Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer and came out of the bullpen. He wasn't just dominant for one inning. Strasburg tossed three shutout innings and struck out four Milwaukee Brewers hitters. He's taken that momentum into the NLDS, as he continues to overpower the opposition.

5. Mike Mussina (2003)

Mike Mussina is a Hall-of-Fame starting pitcher, but in the 2003 ALCS, Moose was asked to come out of the 'pen to reliever Roger Clemens in the fourth inning of Game 7 with the New York Yankees down four to the Boston Red Sox. He saved their season, as he covered three innings without giving up a run while striking out three. The Yanks came back and won 6-5.

4. Nathan Eovaldi (2018)

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26:  Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox delivers the pitch during the fifteenth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
World Series - Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Three | Harry How/Getty Images

Nathan Eovaldi ended up taking the loss in this game, but in the World Series last year, the Boston Red Sox right-hander came out of the bullpen in the 12th inning, following back-to-back relief appearances in Games 1 and 2. The man went six innings and struck out five, allowing only two runs, one of which was earned. Talk about stepping up for the squad. You couldn't ask for better help in a marathon extra-innings game.

3. Randy Johnson (2001)

How can we forget what Randy Johnson did for the Arizona Diamondbacks during the 2001 World Series? After throwing seven innings in Game 6, the Big Unit came out the very next night in relief in Game 7, going 1.1 innings without allowing a run, en route to Arizona's lone championship.

2. Charlie Morton (2017)

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01:  Charlie Morton #50 of the Houston Astros celebrates after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in game seven with a score of 5 to 1 to win the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
World Series - Houston Astros v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Seven | Harry How/Getty Images

Game 7, on the road, after having already clinched Game 7 of the ALCS with a brilliant start, Charlie Morton etched himself into the history books. The Houston Astros captured their World Series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers thanks to Morton's clutch four innings of relief that closed the game. He got the win after allowing just one run on two hits and a walk over four innings. He's since found a knack for these heroics.

1. Madison Bumgarner (2014)

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29:  Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series by a score of 3-2 at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
World Series - San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals - Game Seven | Elsa/Getty Images

One of the most historic postseason moments came during the 2014 World Series when San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner came out in relief in Game 7. It was no cheapie, either. He tossed five shutout innings with four strikeouts and got the save to clinch the Giants' third championship in five years. Oh, and to make this more impressive, Bumgarner tossed a complete game shutout in Game 5 of the series, so he was very much on short rest.