The Yankees decided it wasn’t in their best interests to play Alex Rodriguez against Jason Hammel in Friday’s Game 5. So why on earth would he start against any of the right-handers the Tigers will throw in the ALCS?
Here’s how he’s performed against Detroit’s rotation:
Doug Fister: 1-for-5, 1 BB, 1 K
Max Scherzer: 1-for-10, 1 BB, 4 K
Justin Verlander: 8-for-24, 3 HR, 4 BB, 3 K
Anibal Sanchez: 0-for-3
Rodriguez sat today even though he was 8-for-22 with four homers against Hammel. It was a more favorable matchup than any of the four that are coming up for him. The interesting thing is that Rodriguez has excelled against Verlander, particularly this year. He was 4-for-6 with two homers in two games against the Tigers ace in 2012. Still, it’s hard to see the A-Rod of the last few days getting around on Verlander’s heat.
All that said, he’s still Alex Rodriguez, the active major league leader in homers and RBI. I’d actually be in favor of playing him against Fister in Game 1. If he has some good at-bats, stick with him. If he doesn’t, pack him in mothballs. It’s not fair that the rest of A-Rod’s postseason should come down to his performance in one game, but this isn’t about being fair; it’s about winning.
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: