Nick Blackburn has one-and-half seasons and $8 million remaining on the contract extension the Twins misguidedly gave him in March of 2010, but today Minnesota sent the 30-year-old veteran and his 131 career starts to Triple-A.
Blackburn was never a particularly good bet to sustain long-term success because of his miniscule strikeout rate, but injuries have eliminated whatever thin margin for error he already had and basically turned him into a batting practice pitcher.
Since signing the contract extension he’s started 65 games with a 5.51 ERA and 4.2 strikeouts per nine innings while allowing opponents to hit .309 with a .500 slugging percentage.
Career minor leaguer Casey Fien has replaced Blackburn on the roster, but the Twins haven’t said yet who’ll take over his rotation spot.
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: