The Mariners originally expressed optimism that David Aardsma would be ready for the start of the season after hip surgery, but general manager Jack Zduriencik told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times yesterday that the surgery was more extensive than first expected and that the right-hander might not be ready for Opening Day.
Aardsma, who turned 29 last month, has a 2.92 ERA and 129/59 K/BB ratio over the past two seasons with the Mariners, where he has spent the majority of the time as the team’s closer. The Mariners were reportedly shopping the arbitration-eligible reliever around the time of the Winter Meetings, but those efforts will be put on the back burner for now.
Brandon League should be the favorite to handle save opportunities in Aardsma’s absence. League, who turns 28 in March, posted a 3.42 ERA and 56/27 K/B ratio over 79 innings last season. He led all American League relievers with a ground ball rate of 62.8 percent.
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: