Suárez keeping Koufax company on postseason ERA list

Phillies left-hander's 0.94 mark is best in MLB playoff history

October 20th, 2023

PHOENIX -- When talking about the Phillies' starting rotation, it’s easy to praise and for all of their contributions.

However, deserves to be celebrated just as much, especially when he’s putting up Sandy Koufax-like numbers in October.

After delivering 5 1/3 scoreless innings in the Phils' 2-1 loss to the D-backs in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday at Chase Field, the 28-year-old has put himself in rare postseason company.

Suárez’s 0.94 ERA is the lowest in in postseason history (minimum five starts), just ahead of Koufax (0.95 ERA). That impressive figure does come with a caveat: Koufax pitched 57 postseason innings (all in the World Series), while Suárez sits at roughly half that total, with 28 2/3 innings.

As calm and collected as Suárez is, he also remains humble. Even as his dominance in the postseason continues, his focus remains on setting up Philadelphia for success.

“I didn’t know that,” Suárez said in Spanish of sitting atop the ERA leaderboard. “I’m really happy about that, but I just want to put the team in a position to win when I’m on the mound. When the team wins, that’s when I feel the best. I don’t pay too much attention to stuff like that.”

Suárez struck out seven and got nine whiffs against the D-backs. He retired nine of the first 11 batters on his way to turning in the longest outing of his playoff career.

Despite Suárez's success, Phillies manager Rob Thomson pulled the lefty after just 69 pitches (44 strikes) -- a move that was mostly predetermined.

“I knew [the] situation of the game,” Suárez said via translator Diego Ettedgui. "I knew that the game mattered a lot, so I knew that I put myself in a situation where, you know, one wrong pitch could change the course of the game. So I understood."

Pitching in front of a sellout crowd of 47,075 at Chase Field could rattle some pitchers, but Suárez once again showed that his composure is one of his best tools.

Pressure is something Suárez is familiar with. After being pulled after 3 2/3 innings in Game 1 of the NL Division Series against the Braves, he responded by pitching five innings and allowing one run in front of a raucous Philadelphia crowd in the series-clinching victory in Game 4.

“I think that the team gives me confidence,” Suárez said in Spanish. “When I’m out there and see the plays we’re making on defense, it’s just tremendous. Everyone on the team does their job, and I truly believe that is what fuels me to remain calm.”

Suarez has proven he's comfortable pitching in any capacity. Last October, he recorded key outs as a starter and a reliever -- including closing out the NLCS. As for this season, after representing Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, Suarez was placed on the 15-day injured list with a left elbow strain to begin the regular season and he didn’t pitch until May 13.

Now, if the NLCS goes the distance, he’d be lined up to likely start Game 7 on Tuesday night.

“I think it's just his poise on the mound,” Thomson said. “Nothing seems to bother him. When he didn't have his best stuff, it was coming off that injury, so he was still kind of building back up.

“Once we got toward the end of the season, he had it going on, and he's continued that through the postseason. So I always expect him to give us a good start, expect him to give us length.”