Here’s something you don’t see very often: Because of injuries knocking Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, and Derek Holland out of the mix the Rangers have turned to Tanner Scheppers as their Opening Day starter and it will also be the 27-year-old right-hander’s first career start in the majors.
Scheppers was an occasional starter in the minors, but has worked exclusively as a reliever for the Rangers and was fantastic out of the bullpen last season with a 1.88 ERA and 59/24 K/BB ratio in 77 innings. Texas decided to shift Schepper’s role around following all the injuries to the rotation and Darvish’s recent neck problems caused them to scramble even further for Opening Day.
Last time Scheppers started a regular season game was 2011 at Triple-A and he has a grand total of 12 professional starts since being drafted 44th overall in 2009. Meanwhile, the Rangers have also decided that Alexi Ogando–who started 29 games in 2011 and 18 games last season–will begin this year in the bullpen.
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: