How the Indians are Stopping Aaron Judge
The Cleveland Indians have held New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge to just one hit in 15 at-bats during the first 4 games of the ALDS. This is after the slugger led the Majors in homers, the AL in runs, and posted the best OPS for anyone not named Mike Trout, and finished the season off by hitting 15 homers in his last 113 PAs (an 80 HR/season pace). Very simply: The Indians’ pitchers have neutralized a guy who terrorized pitchers for most of the season. How have they done it?
It’s actually a very straightforward approach, but the Indians have designed and executed it to (near) perfection through 4 games.
First, the Indians have yet to let Judge face a left-handed pitcher, despite the fact that Judge hit slightly better against righties on the year. (Could a pivotal matchup with famed lefty reliever Andrew Miller be in the works?) Next, they have worked to get ahead in the count, having thrown 12 of 19 first pitches for strikes. This is always a good strategy, but with Judge that is particularly advantageous: 1.414 OPS after a first-pitch ball, and a .755 OPS after a first-pitch strike.
Once ahead, the real strategy starts.