Last week I wrote about the Dodgers’ impressive pitching depth, noting that their sixth starter likely headed to the bullpen, Vicente Padilla, could be the third starter on a lot of teams.
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet and that depth may already have vanished, as Padilla has left Dodgers camp and returned to Los Angeles to undergo an MRI exam following elbow soreness that the team’s official Twitter feed describes as “similar pains as last year.”
Padilla missed about two months of last season with an elbow injury, heading to the disabled list in mid-April after beginning the season with a 6.65 ERA through four outings. He had a 3.31 ERA in 12 starts after returning in mid-June and then re-signed with the Dodgers for just $3 million in guaranteed money and the chance to earn twice that much in incentives.
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: