Barry Zito was left off the playoff roster for all three rounds of the Giants’ championship run in 2010 despite throwing 199 innings with a 4.15 ERA during the regular season.
He has very similar numbers this season, throwing 172 innings with a 4.18 ERA, but manager Bruce Bochy said yesterday that he plans to include Zito on the postseason roster.
According to Bochy “the plan now” is to have all five starters on the roster, which means Zito will join Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, and the suddenly struggling Ryan Vogelsong. Only three or maybe four of those guys will actually be needed to start playoff games, so presumably Zito will be around strictly as a long reliever or mop-up man.
He has six career relief appearances, four of them coming last season, but low-leverage bullpen work beats not even being on the roster for a guy with a $126 million contract.
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: