When Aaron Judge took a fastball off the wrist, every Yankee fan held their breath. Luckily it is a bone chip fracture and not something more serious.
Usually, fractures take closer to six weeks to completely heal but the Yankees are giving a three-week time frame. Obviously, no one outside of Judge, coaches and the medical staff knows how bad it really is. Three weeks may be possible, but no one should be surprised if he is on the DL a little longer than that.
What does Judge sitting out for at least three weeks mean for the 2018 Yankees? Judge was anchoring the middle of the potent Yankees lineup. He was a little off the pace of his Rookie of the Year campaign but 26 home runs and 61 RBIs is nothing to write off.
The Yankees are well equipped to deal with this injury for a short time. Giancarlo Stanton will probably see more time in the outfield than DH over the next three weeks. Comparing his defense to Judge’s, it’s just a slight drop. Using UZR, Stanton comes in at 5.6 compared to Judge’s 8.1, which in a short time frame does not amount to much of a difference at all.
Neil Walker will become just about an everyday player during this time, which is where Judge’s absence will be felt the most. Three home runs and 25 RBIs are not going to stop fans from counting down the days till that injury is healed. The real hope for the Yankees offense will be if they can get Gary Sanchez back sooner than expected but with an original three to four-week time frame, he and Judge could return to the lineup near the same time.
The Yankees have been active leading up to the trade deadline, but on the pitching side. Zach Britton sliding into a set up role along side Delin Betances to get to Aroldis Chapman makes a formidable bullpen, following the model the Royals rode to a title a few years ago. They also brought in JA Happ too help shore of the rotation, which has been shaky at times this season. And then yesterday they added another rotation piece in Lance Lynn. Happ is having a solid season. An ERA just over 4 with 11 wins He has struck out 132 in 120 innings. Lynn projects more as a long man out of the pen/ spot starter down the stretch. So far Lynn has posted an ERA over 5 and is walking 5.45 batters per nine innings. So, while the Yankee offense may not be the same over the next month, the pitching staff is in a much better position going forward and should be much better.
The issue for Judge and the Yankees to really keep an eye on will be how quickly Judge can get the strength back in his wrist. Serious wrist injuries have derailed some of the best hitters in the past, just look at Nomar pre and post wrist injury. Luckily Judge’s is nowhere near that serious, but it could take more than 3-4 weeks for him to regain the strength and trust in his wrist. Judge should be fine in the long run, but I would not be surprised to see him not be as dangerous down the stretch as he was during the first part of the year.
So how much will the Yankees miss Judge? A lot, but also not that much in the short term. With the depth they have and the new pitchers the Yankees have acquired, they are fine in the sense they will make the playoffs. But it is probably safe to say at this point that with two months left in the season and missing their best player for a chunk of that time, the Yankees will not be making up that 6 game difference and catching the Red Sox. What kind of noise the Yankees can make in the playoffs depends on how good Judge, and Sanchez, are when they return to action sometime over the next month.
Photo Credit: newsday.com
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