Scott Baker to undergo season-ending elbow surgery

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Scott Baker has battled elbow problems since 2010, throwing just 135 innings last year and beginning this year on the disabled list, and after a recent setback the Twins announced today that he’ll undergo season-ending surgery.

It’s not Tommy John surgery, but rather a repair of his flexor pronator tendon, which carries a six-month recovery timetable.

That rules him out for this season and with Minnesota all but certain to decline his $9.5 million option for 2013 likely signals the end of his Twins career.

Baker topped 175 innings just once, throwing 200 in 2009, but when healthy he was consistently a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter with excellent strikeout-to-walk ratios and a 3.98 ERA in 134 starts since 2007. It’s remarkable that he pitched as well he did last season, posting a 3.14 ERA and 123/32 K/BB ratio.

Baker being out of the picture likely means that prospect Liam Hendriks will get an opportunity to stick in the Twins’ rotation at age 23 and with little experience above Double-A.

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: