As Craig noted this morning, Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes was magnificent Tuesday against the White Sox, hurling six scoreless innings before his start was halted due to a Chicago storm.
The dominant performance has earned Hughes at least one more week in the Yanks’ rotation.
Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger brings word that the 25-year-old has been OK’d to make his next scheduled start, Tuesday against the Angels. The Yankees haven’t decided what to do with 24-year-old Ivan Nova, who has also been sharp, and for a much longer stretch than Hughes. A six-man rotation may soon become a reality in the Bronx.
Hughes has displayed improved velocity on his fastball and the Yanks are likely hoping that he can suddenly round into his 2010 form. They hold a commanding seven-game lead in the American League Wild Card standings but the postseason rotation looks iffy beyond CC Sabathia (and maybe Bartolo Colon).
Nova will try to do some proving in Thursday night’s series finale against the White Sox. Then it’ll be Hughes’ turn Tuesday evening against second-place Anaheim. And so on, and so on.
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: