Just one day after Aaron Judge led the Yankees‘ charge against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 16-0 laugher (which he exited early, after his grand slam put things out of reach), the right fielder will rest rather than play the opener of a four-game set at Fenway Park.
When the lineup dropped, it didn’t take an eagle-eyed fan to notice a jarring change in the regular rotation. Anthony Rizzo, battling lower back stiffness, will miss his third straight game.
Judge, on the other hand, will sit to start this one after also sitting out the series finale in Cleveland and getting a Monday off day with the rest of the fellas (used to tour the Roberto Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh).
Are the Yankees up 14.0 games on the entire AL East? Yes. Is this panic time? No.
That said, do you want to watch Aaron Judge, the team’s centerpiece, open up a four-game series against your heated rivals with the chance to bury them? Also, yes. Ideally.
Something had to be nagging Judge here.
Yankees Lineup: Where’s Aaron Judge in Thursday opener vs Red Sox?
A three-hole Matt Carpenter doesn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of Red Sox Nation, as impressive as he’s been. Neither does Joey Gallo, no matter what spot in the lineup he’s in. Add in Rafael Devers returning for the Sox after a short absence, and it’s a frustrating note to enter a series on after so much momentum was accrued on Wednesday night.
So, what’s the verdict? According to Aaron Boone, Judge has been battling a “lower body soreness thing” for a while, and might be used to pinch-hit in Thursday’s contest a day after he rocketed a grand slam into left field at PNC Park.
It’s difficult to question the Yankees’ injury prevention squad, at this point, and they did a great job getting Judge off his feet in 2021 when similar issues arose. Ultimately, if there’s a time to be cautious, that time is now.
That said … losing your best player for an opener at Fenway will never produce good vibes, no matter how wise it might be in the long-term.