In the minors Gerrit Cole’s strikeout rate never quite matched his excellent raw stuff, as the former No. 1 overall pick totaled a modest 114 strikeouts in 133 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.
After being called up to the Pirates in June he continued to miss an underwhelming number of bats, managing just 29 strikeouts in his first 49 innings and failing to whiff more than five batters in any of his first eight starts.
Lately, however, Cole has started racking up strikeouts. Today he whiffed a dozen Padres in six innings, which gives Cole a total of 65 strikeouts in 63 innings since July 28. Overall this season he has a 3.23 ERA and 94/27 K/BB ratio in 111 innings while allowing just seven homers as a 22-year-old rookie, which is one of many reasons why the Pirates’ success is likely to continue long past this season.
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: