The New York Yankees need to find a way to get Aaron Judge back on track. After looking like the easy American League MVP in the first half, Judge has been in a major tailspin since the All-Star break. In order to pull him out of it, Yankees manager Joe Girardi will give Judge a few days off.
Girardi said he's going to give Judge a couple of days off to try and "refresh him and get him going."
— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) August 28, 2017
Judge’s performance warrants the move. After hitting .329/.448/.691, with 30 home runs, in his first 84 games, Judge has hit just .179/.341/.352, with seven home runs, in his last 41 contests.
Judge has an 85 wRC+, an advanced stat that measures offensive performance, since the All-Star break. To put that in perspective, that’s similar to how offensive juggernauts Yolmer Sanchez, Freddy Galvis and Jordy Mercer have hit this year.
There continue to be questions about whether Judge is battling a shoulder injury, but Girardi denied it has been impacting his performance. Judge has been seen in the locker room after games with an ice pack wrapped around his left shoulder.
It’s unclear how many games Judge will sit, though it doesn’t look like it will be a long-term thing. If that were the case, the Yankees could have used the shoulder – or made up a phantom injury – to keep Judge out for 10 days. Other teams have manipulated the disabled list this season … looking at you Los Angeles Dodgers … so it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary.
With the decision, the club is at least tacitly admitting some of Judge’s struggles have become mental. Maybe a few days off is all it takes to get his shoulder right, but it seems more likely that this time off is partially for Judge to clear his head.
It’s a luxury the Yankees can afford … for now. While the postseason is far from a certainty, the Yankees do hold a 3.5 game lead over the Minnesota Twins for the top wild card spot in the American League.
Having a healthy and productive Judge by the time October rolls around is the goal. Considering the team’s current position, there’s no risk in the Yankees trying to kickstart that process now.
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