When the Red Sox designated Daniel Bard for assignment it seemed likely that a non-contending team with some 40-man roster space to spare would take a flier on the once-dominant reliever and sure enough the Cubs claimed him off waivers.
There’s no overstating how lost Bard has been for the past two seasons and this year he made just one appearance for the Red Sox while also walking 27 batters in 15 innings in the minors. On the other hand, he’s still just 28 years old and was an excellent setup man as recently as 2011, so the Cubs don’t have much to lose by picking him up for nothing and seeing if there’s any sign of a turnaround.
And of course it didn’t hurt that Cubs president Theo Epstein is plenty familiar with the good version of Bard from their time in Boston.
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: