While very few baseball fans now recognize the title ("Pitching in a Pinch") of Christy Mathewson's classic book on pitching, they do understand that pitching for a contender in the midst of a pennant race is a truly demanding task. Each season, a small group of pitchers step forward during the pressure-packed games of September. Some are established stars who are handsomely paid to shoulder the load; others are young pitchers or struggling veterans trying to show they can perform with the best.
Here are five pitchers who have surprised a lot of people by helping carry their clubs this month. (Statistics are through games of Sept. 19.)