Stephen Strasburg’s latest dominant start last night featured 13 strikeouts and just one earned run in six innings against the Pirates, including blowing a 96-mph fastball past Garrett Jones with the bases loaded on his 103rd and final pitch.
Strasburg’s combined numbers since returning from Tommy John surgery in September are absolutely ridiculous: 68 innings, 1.59 ERA, 75 strikeouts, 12 walks, 2 homers allowed, .189 opponents’ batting average.
He’s lost a little bit of velocity, averaging 95.7 miles per hour with his fastball compared to 97.3 mph before surgery, but even 95.7 mph is the fastest fastball in baseball by a relatively wide margin this season. He also leads baseball in strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings. Oh, and even after sitting out nearly an entire calendar year after going under the knife Strasburg is still two months shy of his 24th birthday.
Entering Thursday’s NLCS Game 5, Dodgers outfielder Enrique Hernandez had never hit a home run nor even driven in a run in the playoffs in his four-year career. He had homered twice in a regular season game just twice and his career-high for RBI in a game was four.
Hernandez hit three home runs and knocked in seven runs to help power the Dodgers past the Cubs 11-1 to win the National League pennant and punch their ticket to the World Series. His first homer was a solo homer to center field in the second inning off of starter Jose Quintana. He blasted a grand slam to right field off of Hector Rondon in the fourth, then tacked on a two-run blast in the ninth inning off of Mike Montgomery to make it 11-1.
Hernandez is the 10th player to hit three home runs in a postseason game. Jose Altuve, of course, did it two weeks ago in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Red Sox. Before Altuve, Pablo Sandoval (2012), Albert Pujols (2011), and Adrian Beltre (2011) were the last players to accomplish the feat.
Hernandez’s seven RBI set a new National League record for a postseason game. Only four other players — Troy O’Leary, John Valentin, Mo Vaughn, and Edgar Martinez — accomplished the feat.
No one has hit three home runs and knocked in seven-plus in a game… until Hernandez. He certainly picked a good time to break out.