Jon Morosi of MLB Network just tweeted that Stephen Strasburg is now likely to pitch for the Nationals today in their Game 4 matchup with the Chicago Cubs. UPDATE: It’s official. Strasburg has the start.
If this holds, it’s certainly a reversal from yesterday, when Dusty Baker and the Nats said Strasburg was too sick to pitch. That led to a bunch of confusion, with some reporting that it was simply a matter of miscommunication and others suggesting that, in reality, Strasburg had begged out of his start.
Did Strasburg shrink from the spotlight in today’s Game 4? Was he really sick? If so, was he so sick that it was reasonable to rule him out for a Wednesday start on a Tuesday? If not, why did they do it anyway? Did Strasburg and/or the Nats get a sense of the heat they were taking over all of this and cave?
No idea. All I now is that this has been the most confusing 18 hours or so I can recall in the runup to a playoff game in some time.
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: