The Yankees have moved Aaron Judge back onto the active roster, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to strengthen Aaron Boone’s lineup.
With all due respect to Aaron Judge’s ability to play a brilliant right field, that isn’t the thing the Yankees have missed while he’s been on the disabled list. Unfortunately, that’s the only thing Aaron Boone is getting back at the moment.
The Yankees are putting Judge back onto the active roster, but he isn’t ready to face Major League pitching yet. That means he’ll be relegated to base running and defense for the time being. That will give his teammates an emotional boost, but it’s unclear just how much he’s ready to help them on the field.
Reportedly, Yankees officials are anxious to get Judge back into the flow of being an active member of the team. They are understandably concerned that his long layoff might make him an ineffective player for a brief period after he returns to action. Given the tight race for the Wild Card spot the Yankees currently find themselves in, that’s not a luxury the organization can afford.
Putting him back on the active roster should at least help Judge start to overcome the mental malaise associated with a long stint on the DL. It won’t allow him to return to the diamond firing on all cylinders, but it should help ease the process. The Yankees are doing everything they can to minimize the time he’ll need to get back up to speed.
All of this means that Andrew McCutchen should remain a regular player in the New York lineup for at least another week. He’s not capable of replacing Judge’s production on a day-to-day basis, but he is starting to look more comfortable in pinstripes. The time he’s gotten in Judge’s absence may give Boone an improved bench when the playoffs come around.
Yankees fans shouldn’t expect to see Judge on the field much before he’s capable of handling a bat. He might get a game or two as a late-inning defensive substitute, but it will be hard for Boone to use an outfielder who has to be removed if his spot in the order comes up. That means Judge will likely be restricted to use in the ninth inning for the time being.
Still, his return to the active roster will be an emotional lift for a team that really needs one at the moment. It’s not the perfect news Yankees fans have been looking for, but it’s a step in the right direction for Judge and his teammates.