Eduardo Nunez has struggled defensively at every position he’s tried for the Yankees, which recently includes starts in left field for the first time in his professional career.
That has limited his playing time despite a decent .728 OPS and today the Yankees decided he’d be better off starting regularly at Triple-A, demoting him to the minors to make room for Eric Chavez’s return from the disabled list.
This time last year Yankees fans who didn’t know better were getting excited about Nunez as the long-term shortstop after he played well subbing for an injured Derek Jeter, but now Jeter is back to hitting and Nunez is back to looking like a long-term utility man his minor-league track record suggested.
He’ll be back, if only because the odds of Chavez staying healthy are always slim, and also because the Yankees are unlikely to feel comfortable with Jayson Nix as their backup shortstop for very long. So far, though, Nunez has hit .271 with a .320 on-base percentage and .380 slugging percentage in 450 plate appearances as a big leaguer and turns 25 years old next month, so not playing regularly might simply prove to be his best role.
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: