The New York Yankees are beginning to understand the reality of playing without their star, Aaron Judge, for the next few days.
Judge incurred a sprained right big toe during a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and after being absent for the previous two games, he will be joining the injured list.
Despite facing one of the weakest teams in baseball, the Chicago White Sox, the Yankees’ offense foundered on Tuesday night.
Lucas Giolito rendered six hitless innings against the Yankees, who only managed to score owing to an outfield error and a solo ninth-inning home run by Josh Donaldson.
The loss of a player boasting a .291 average and a .404 OBP is considerable, and the Yankees will be hard-pressed to replace even a fraction of his offensive contribution.
In the interim, Willie Calhoun and Jake Bauers will likely be seen more often filling in the corner outfield positions. The team is counting on power hitter Giancarlo Stanton to rise to the occasion and on Josh Donaldson to maintain his strong performance following a return from a hamstring injury.
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The Yankees can’t take a step forward with continuous injuries:
Upon the return of Stanton, Donaldson, and Tommy Kahnle, the team promptly lost five players, including Judge, Greg Allen, Ryan Weber, Harrison Bader, and Nestor Cortés.
With such a high injury count, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the team to sustain a high-level performance, consequently falling further behind in the AL East standings. With a 36–26 record, they are currently 7.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays, who continue their winning streak.
The Yankees do have a relatively easier series of games ahead, facing the Chicago White Sox twice more and a currently underperforming Boston Red Sox team coming to the Bronx, before travelling to confront the Mets and the Red Sox again in Boston.
Judge’s injury could sideline him for the next two weeks. His absence will likely expose the team’s offensive vulnerabilities, showcasing both his importance to the team and the team’s fragility without him.
The lower half of the Yankees’ batting order has been notably poor of late, with Anthony Volpe posting a .191 average and a .268 OBP, Calhoun at .234 with a .312 OBP, and IKF’s performance dwindling after an initial strong fortnight.
Jose Treviño, the catcher, has been particularly unimpressive on offense this year, hitting .213 with a .261 OBP. IKF’s performance at the beginning of June, hitting .091 with a .167 OBP, marked a stark decline from his improving May numbers.
Eventually, general manager Brian Cashman may feel compelled to infuse the lower end of the batting order with additional talent, potentially requiring a trade involving one of his top prospects, notably Oswald Peraza.
One could argue that Cashman should be in the market for a starting pitcher, but if the offense continues to falter, particularly in the corner outfield, he may have no option but to acquire an above-average offensive player before the trade deadline.
However, that may be easier said than done, as the Yankees would have to identify a suitable trading partner willing to sell.