Mariano Rivera is a pretty special pitcher. I know, it’s a pretty revelatory statement.
First, I direct your attention to this pretty neat interactive graphic from the New York Times.
My description won’t do it justice, but the graphic details every
single batter of Rivera’s postseason career. Yes, even Mike Piazza’s
flyout to end Game 5 of the 2000 World Series. A sad reminder for this
Mets fan, but pretty darn cool otherwise.
Rivera has a ridiculous 0.74 ERA and
0.77 WHIP in 88 postseason games, including an 0.56 ERA over 16 innings
during the 2009 playoffs. It’s even more incredible upon learning that he pitched through a painful rib cage injury during the World Series.
“It doesn’t matter now,” Rivera said. “It’s over. Thank God it’s over.
It was manageable. ‘Geno’ did a tremendous job. Thank God we were able
to do what we did, to put me on the field every day so I would have a
Those who watched the World Series
will remember Rivera with some sort of heating pad under his jacket in
the bullpen, but any concern of an injury was dismissed by the team, as
he proved quite durable, tossing 5 1/3 innings over four appearances
Rivera turns 40 later this month and has one year and $15 million remaining on his contract. He has already expressed a desire to pitch for five more seasons. With results like these, who are we to say he can’t pull it off?
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: