Aaron Judge, the reigning American League rookie of the year, is making his return to the New York Yankees lineup — just in time for a potential one-game playoff against the Oakland A’s that is appearing more and more likely as the regular season heads down the homestretch.
Judge was activated from the disabled list on Friday and will be available to the Yankees for the first time since being hit by a pitch and suffering a chip fracture in his wrist on July 26. However, he won’t be facing live pitching quite yet.
The Yankees are activating Judge before starting a weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays on a limited basis. He will only be available to play defense and run the bases if the team needs a pinch runner.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said the team is “probably a couple of days away from making a decision,” about when Judge can start making live plate appearances again.
Aaron Boone said that the #Yankees are “probably a couple of days away from making a decision” about how they will get Aaron Judge some simulated at-bats.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) September 14, 2018
Power in the Lineup
Judge burst onto the scene in 2017 slugging an MLB rookie record 52 home runs. He finished second in last year’s American League MVP voting and was having a strong second season before the injury. The right fielder posted a .947 OPS (.398 OBP, .548 SLG) with 26 home runs and 61 RBI in the middle of the Yankee lineup.
When he went down with the wrist injury the Yankees were still alive and well in the hunt for the American League East title. At the time, they trailed the first place Boston Red Sox by 4.5 games in the AL East and held a 4.5 game lead over the Seattle Mariners for the first wild card spot.
The Yankees’ .630 winning percentage (90-56) is still the third best in all of baseball, but they’ve fallen 10.5 games back of the East division lead with just 16 games left. Their first place wildcard lead has shrunk to 1.5 games over the A’s.
Bat Still Resting
Judge won’t be hitting yet, but the Yankee brass is confident that his bat will be available soon.
Boone said that he, as well as relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman, could both be fully ready to go when the Yankees start a series next week against the Red Sox.
“I don’t want to put a day on it,” Boone told the YES Network’s Michael Kay. “I think there’s a chance that they’re ready to go in that window, whether it’s that series or not remains to be seen. I think the next few days have to unfold in a positive way.”
The Yankees will spend their final 16 games playing divisional opponents, including six more against the Red Sox. The American League wildcard game will be played on Wednesday, Oct. 3.
The Yankees currently have the fifth best odds to win the 2018 World Series, at +950, behind the Red Sox (+400), Houston Astros (+450), Chicago Cubs (+550), and L.A. Dodgers (+600).