Rangers might move Tommy Hunter to bullpen temporarily

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Tommy Hunter posted a quality 3.73 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 128 innings last year and was all set to open the 2011 season as Texas’ No. 3 starter.

But he strained his groin at the end of spring training and has been on the disabled list since.

Hunter has made a number of rehab appearances, but the results have not been overwhelmingly positive and the Rangers are now thinking about a creative alternative. They want to change his role.

According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the 24-year-old Hunter has begun making rehab appearances out of the bullpen at Triple-A Round Rock and could be used as a long reliever temporarily once he is medically cleared to return to the major leagues.

“It’s to see if he can do it, see how he recovers,” manager Ron Washington said. “That’s not in stone.”

The Rangers would certainly prefer to have Hunter at his best and a member of the rotation, but their starting pitching has been solid this season thanks to the emergence of Alexi Ogando and Matt Harrison, and Hunter could always make spot starts down the stretch if he begins showing signs of life in long relief.

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: