Livan Hernandez released by Astros, signs with Braves

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UPDATE: Surprisingly enough, it didn’t take Hernandez long to find another gig. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that he’s signing with the Braves, who’ll apparently use the 37-year-old soft-tosser as a long reliever/spot starter. Good thing Calcaterra is on vacation today.

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Once thought to be a near-lock for the Astros’ rotation, Livan Hernandez was released today.

Hernandez signed a minor-league deal in late January and looked likely to eat some innings for an otherwise inexperienced pitching staff, but the 37-year-old right-hander got knocked around this spring and the Astros decided to give opportunities to Jordan Lyles and Kyle Weiland instead.

Hernandez was surprisingly effective for the Nationals in 2010, but allowed opponents to hit .291 off him last season while posting a 4.47 ERA in 175 innings. He struck out just 5.1 batters per nine innings and averaged 83.9 miles per hour with his fastball, so if Hernandez couldn’t crack what figures to be one of the worst rotations in baseball he may finally be finished.

Of course, I’ve said that before.

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: