Chien-Ming Wang close to rejoining Nationals after strong rehab start

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Chien-Ming Wang tossed six innings of two-run ball last night in a minor-league rehab start at Single-A and might be one more solid outing away from rejoining the Nationals.

Wang has been out since injuring his calf covering first base on March 15 and has also battled major shoulder problems for the past three seasons, but Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that “his cannonball sinker is back in the low-90s, and his breaking balls are better than ever.”

Wang racked up an uncharacteristic seven strikeouts versus Single-A hitters last night and also induced five ground-ball outs, but with Ross Detwiler pitching very well as the fill-in fifth starter the Nationals will have a tough decision to make once Wang is deemed ready to return as soon as next week.

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: