New York Yankees captain Aaron Judge is on the Injured List with a toe contusion and sprained ligament. In his absence, the Yankees will need to pick up slack to keep the team rolling.
It’s never ideal to lose a player in the lineup, but losing Aaron Judge is the biggest blow the New York Yankees could receive. Judge recently suffered a toe injury while making a play in right field at Dodger Stadium. He hit the IL for the second time this season. With no timetable for his return, the Yankees need other players to fill the reigning AL MVP’s absence. Some of their stars need to step up to the plate, but they’ll also need their outfield depth to pick up the slack.
The loss of Judge’s bat in the Yankees lineup is tough. Some big names in the lineup have been struggling at the plate. DJ LeMahieu has struggled this season, and Anthony Rizzo hasn’t looked great since missing a series due to a neck injury. Without Judge, other players will need to get their bats going.
The Yankees’ outfield has taken a beating. In addition to losing Judge, the Yankees are also without center fielder Harrison Bader. After missing the first month of the 2023 season with an oblique injury, Bader played in just 26 games before returning to the IL with a hamstring injury. After he was acquired via a trade with the Red Sox, Greg Allen only played for a few weeks before going on the IL with a hip flexor injury. Giancarlo Stanton recently returned from rehabbing a hamstring injury. The Yankees are having him DH right now with no timeline for when he could get back into the outfield.
The Yankees have to be creative with filling the outfield. Players who are currently seeing reps in the outfield are Isiah-Kiner Falefa who is more of an infielder than an outfielder, utility man Oswaldo Cabrera who was recently optioned to Triple-A but returned immediately when Greg Allen went on the IL, Willie Calhoun who is more of a DH than an outfielder, journeyman Billy McKinney who was just added to the 40-man roster, and Jake Bauers who recently expressed he was unsure he’d make it back to the big leagues. These players are responsible for pulling some weight in the outfield with Judge and Bader out.
Here are three players whose contributions are critical while Judge is on the IL.
Yankees who need to pick up slack: Giancarlo Stanton
Giancarlo Stanton returned from the IL last week and is now in a position to pick the team up after Judge’s injury. Due to his injury in April, Stanton has only played 17 games this season. He’s currently slashing .242/.286/.530 with five home runs and 12 RBI in 66 at-bats. Since Stanton isn’t playing in the outfield right now, his contributions will be solely offensive. The Yankees desperately need his bat to get hot.
Stanton hit 31 home runs last year in 110 games. No one expects him to hit 59 home runs in a season like he did during his incredible 2017 season, but Stanton is a player who is expected to hit for power, whether that’s via home runs or blistering RBI singles. When Stanton goes on a tear, seeing his name in a lineup is frightening.
Now that he’s back in the lineup, Stanton needs to start showing his offensive power. He’s 2 for 14 since returning from the IL. He hasn’t gotten hot yet, but there have been flashes of the scary Stanton the Yankees need. Stanton hit a home run in his first game back on June 2 against the Dodgers. He hit a double in his second game back two days later. It may take some time for Stanton to find his rhythm, but his hits last weekend are a good sign that Stanton isn’t far off.