This is the first offseason I remember when no one has kicked the tires on Mark Prior, hoping to see if he still has a bit of what he had ten years ago.
But Prior is still trying. And Doug Miller of MLB.com caught up with him recently to see what’s going down:
Nine years. It’s seemed like a long time, having not pitched in the big leagues since 2006 because of one injury or the next one or the bunch after that. It’s seemed like a short time, watching his kids grow up so fast, watching as he and his wife evolve as parents and adults now in their 30s, settling into much quieter days in a world where expectations have new meaning. It’s no longer the All-Star Game or the World Series or the Hall of Fame here on top of this hill. It’s waking up every morning, really early, and trying to do the right things. Trying to get back to the Majors.
It’s a long story chronicling Prior’s long journey back and what his life has been like since way, way back in 2003 when everyone thought he’d be the next big thing.
It’s hard to believe he’s still only 32. It’s harder to believe that he’ll ever pitch in the bigs again. But he’s trying.
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: