Astros, Wandy Rodriguez agree to three-year, $34 million extension

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Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that the Astros and left-hander Wandy Rodriguez have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a three-year, $34 million contract extension.

The deal also includes a vesting option for 2014 which could net him as much as $44.5 million, according to Alyson Footer, Sr. Director of Social Media for the Astros. Rodriguez, who turned 32 last week, was arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter, so the Astros have at least bought out his first two years of free agency.

Rodriguez has a 4.18 ERA over his first six seasons in the major leagues, but while he doesn’t look like a front-line starter on paper, only 10 pitchers (with more than 500 innings pitched) have a lower ERA since the start of the 2008 season.

1. Roy Halladay – 2.67 ERA

2. Adam Wainwright – 2.68 ERA

3. Felix Hernandez – 2.69 ERA

4. Tim Lincecum – 2.83 ERA

5. Johan Santana – 2.85 ERA

6. Cliff Lee – 2.98 ERA

7. CC Sabathia – 3.07 ERA

8. Zack Greinke – 3.25 ERA

9. Matt Cain – 3.27 ERA

10. Jon Lester – 3.29 ERA

11. Wandy Rodriguez – 3.36 ERA

Rodriguez figures to be a big part of the rebuilding process in Houston — and with Brett Myers, J.A. Happ, Bud Norris and (eventually) top prospect Jordan Lyles, they may actually be better than you think  — but this contract isn’t necessarily something that would scare off another club should they decide to explore a trade sometime down the road.

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: