The Dodgers moved quickly to erase some of their bad 2011 memories Tuesday, declining options on Casey Blake and Jon Garland and outrighting Eugenio Velez to Triple-A.
Blake’s option was worth $6 million, while Garland would have made $8 million.
Blake played in just 63 games in the final season of a three-year, $17.5 million deal and hit .252/.342/.371 with four homers and 26 RBI in 202 at-bats. His future in baseball is in doubt after neck surgery, and at age 38, he may not be able to land a starting job even if he recovers well.
Garland, who had made 32 starts in nine straight seasons, was limited to nine starts this year by a shoulder injury that required surgery in July. He was just 1-5 with a 4.33 ERA before going down, and his status for the beginning of next season is also in question.
Velez made history this year thanks a 46-AB hitless streak that is still ongoing. He’ll join Blake and Garland in free agency and likely catch on with another club on a minor league deal.
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: