The Dodgers used six relievers to mop up the mess that Paul Maholm left last night. One of those six was Drew Butera. Catchers often have great arms for obvious reasons, but Butera’s was so great that you have to wonder why someone hasn’t turned him into a pitcher yet.
Butera pitched the ninth. He got a 1-2 count on Christian Yelich before forcing him to line out, a 2-1 count on Ed Lucas before getting him to ground out and then he struck out Marcell Ozuna on three straight swinging strikes. One of those strikes registered at 94 on the stadium gun, but BrooksBaseball said that last pitch was 95.1 m.p.h.. Another one of those strikes was on a 74 m.p.h. breaking ball.
This is the second time Butera has pitched. He did it once in 2012 and then, as now, pitched a scoreless inning while striking out a batter. Given that he’s a career .186/.236/.273 hitter, and given how much trouble the Dodgers’ bullpen has experienced this year, well, do I need to do the math for you?
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: