Zach Britton’s sparkling debut for the Yankees was overshadowed by the news that Aaron Judge will miss at least the next three with a chipped bone in his right wrist after being hit by a pitch in the first inning of Monday night’s 7-2 victory.
Following an MRI and a CT scan, doctors determined that Yankees All-Star Aaron Judge will not need surgery, but that he’ll be unlikely to swing a bat in game situations for at least the next three weeks.
Losing your team leader in home runs (26), OBP (.398), slugging percentage (.548), OPS (.947) and walks (68) is never something you a) plan for or b) want. However, the offseason acquisition of 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton immediately becomes even more important than it already was.
Following a slow start that was littered with a chorus of ridiculous boos from “home fans,” Stanton has been on a tear since the end of May. His season line now reads as you’d expect from one of the game’s highest-paid players. .281/.348/.512 with 23 home runs, 61 RBIs and 61 runs scored.
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Yes, his 135:35 K:BB ratio isn’t very good, but high strikeout totals have always been a part of Stanton’s game, and in this dicey situation, there’s no one more qualified to pick up the slack left over from Judge’s absence.
In the last 30 games alone, Stanton is slashing .342/.394/.530 with five home runs, 19 RBI and 17 runs scored. Stanton’s clutch gene is also firing on all cylinders, as the 28-year-old Los Angeles native is 11-for-29 with five homers and a ridiculous 1.625 OPS in the ninth inning.
Throw in his stellar .365 batting average in 96 at-bats against left-handers this season, and the Yankee slugger should be primed to carry the offense through Boston next weekend as part of a four-game set — with or without the likes of Judge and Gary Sanchez.
Surely, with less protection in the lineup, manager Aaron Boone will need to get all he can out inconsistent performers like Greg Bird, Didi Gregorius, Neil Walker and Aaron Hicks.
However, without a clearcut fourth outfielder and four days to go until the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, rumblings of potential deals have already begun. The names being mentioned include Cameron Maybin of the Marlins, Curtis Granderson of the Blue Jays, Michael Taylor of the Nationals and even Mike Moustakas of the Royals to fill-in as the primary DH.
Although the idea of Moustakas’ left-handed stick in Yankee Stadium is intriguing, when it comes to external outfield options, I’d rather see the club call-up reinforcements from Triple-A.
Whether it’s a jack of all trades like Tyler Wade; Tyler Austin who has 36 innings of outfield experience in the bigs; or even the reemergence of Jacoby Ellsbury, there’s never been a better time to make use of players already on the 40-man roster.
Of course, the simplest solution would be to install Clint Frazier as the part-time right fielder, to give Stanton a rest here and there. But Frazier is back in concussion protocol after diving for a ball on July 20 down at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
According to CBS Sports, Frazier was able to take batting practice on Wednesday, which is an encouraging sign, although the organization will surely take a cautious approach with Red Thunder, who is 9-for-34 in 15 games with the Yankees this season.