Can Ubaldo Jimenez be the first 30-game winner since 1968?

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The answer is no, of course, but “Ubaldo Jimenez probably won’t win 30 games, but let’s talk about him anyway” really isn’t much of a headline as far as headlines go.
Jimenez notched his 14th victory Monday in his team’s 76th game, which seemed to me like a pretty amazing feat but actually isn’t all that rare. According to the indispensable and highly addicting Play Index on Baseball-Reference.com, Jimenez became the 45th player in baseball history with at least 14 wins in his team’s first 76 games.
The most recent pitchers to do so were Pedro Martinez in 1999, John Smoltz in 1996, Bret Saberhagen in 1987, Roger Clemens in 1986, Joaquin Andujar in 1985, and Steve Carlton in 1980. None of those guys won 30 games, because the last pitcher to win 30 games was Denny McClain in 1968.
However, if Jimenez can win again in his next start Saturday night that would give him 15 wins in 81 team games, which would further thin the field historically and put him on pace for exactly 30 wins. He’ll be facing Barry Zito and the Giants, and Jimenez hasn’t pitched well in back-to-back outings, but if he can pick up the victory he’ll become just the 34th pitcher with at least 15 wins through 81 team games.
Pedro in 1999 and Andujar in 1985 are the only pitchers to do so since 1980, and they finished with 23 and 21 wins, respectively. All of which shows the incredible difficultly of winning 30 games while pitching in a five-man rotation. As amazing as Jimenez has been, he’d have to duplicate his first-half performance and get the same kind of lineup and bullpen support to rarely take a loss or even a no-decision.
Twenty-five wins is much more feasible, and Bob Welch in 1990 is the last pitcher to do that.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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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: