Yankees pin hopes on Aaron Judge and 10 games to survive

Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees
Joel Sherman

Table of Contents

Over the past 42 games, the Yankees have navigated the waters without the presence of Aaron Judge, striving to keep their team afloat and competitive. Throughout this challenging period, the Yankees have encountered rough waters, with their boat springing numerous leaks. However, despite the obstacles, they have managed to avoid complete failure.

As Aaron Judge stands on the brink of returning, the team is about to face an even more intense and tumultuous phase – akin to entering the eye of a storm.

Starting from Friday in Baltimore, there’s a glimmer of hope as Aaron Judge might finally make his much-anticipated comeback from a torn ligament in his right big toe. The Yankees are about to kick off a crucial 10-game series against the Orioles, Rays, and Astros – all three teams currently leading the playoff chase ahead of them.

As the season enters its final two months, the Yankees have a golden chance to start closing the gap, and the timing couldn’t be better. With their most pivotal player set to return to the lineup, they have a significant opportunity to make up ground and turn the tide in their favor.

Yankees look to Aaron Judge’s return

Clarke Schmidt, who is slated to start Saturday’s game at Camden Yards, expressed that Aaron Judge’s return is undoubtedly a substantial boost for both the team and the organization. He acknowledged the immense impact Judge carries within the team and how much he signifies to them.

Aaron Judge, anticipated to rejoin the lineup either on Friday or this weekend at the latest, is making a unique comeback for the Yankees. His return aligns perfectly with a crucial 10-game stretch, during which they face three rivals currently leading the playoff race.

When Aaron Judge last stepped onto the field for a game at Dodger Stadium on June 3, the Yankees held a record of 35-25, securing the third position in the AL East standings. They trailed the first-place Rays by six games and the second-place Orioles by two games.

Aaron Judge during an batting practice.

Now, with Aaron Judge set to make his return to the Yankees, there’s hope for a boost. At present, the team still occupies the third AL wild-card spot, merely one game behind the Astros. The anticipation of Aaron Judge’s comeback on Friday adds a unique dimension to their playoff aspirations.

Following Aaron Judge’s absence, the Yankees have experienced a struggle, managing a record of 19-23. Without their seasoned hitter, the lineup seemed adrift, with key players like Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, and DJ LeMahieu enduring prolonged slumps at a crucial juncture.

As Friday approaches, the team’s situation might not be ideal, but it’s not a lost cause either. Much credit goes to their pitching staff, which has played a significant role in keeping them competitive. Despite the challenges, they remain in the race, holding on with hope and determination.

With a record of 54-48, the Yankees currently find themselves in the unfamiliar position of last place in the AL East. An eight-game gap separates them from the leading Orioles, while the Rays claim the second spot, leaving the Yankees trailing by 6 ¹/₂ games.

Yankees aspirations hang in balance

Their aspirations for a wild-card berth also hang in the balance. They are 2 ¹/₂ games behind the Blue Jays, who hold the final AL wild-card spot, and 3 ¹/₂ games behind the Astros. The Red Sox stand just one game ahead, making the competition intense and every game critical for the Yankees to secure a playoff spot.

Rizzo mentioned that it had been a grind that they had shown. He remarked that there had been waves of ups and downs, alternating between good and bad plays. He expressed his hope that all of this was building towards a second-half run of momentum.

According to Anthony Rizzo, the Yankees are brimming with excitement over Aaron Judge’s upcoming return, considering him to be “the face of baseball.”

Additionally, Kiner-Falefa mentioned “the big guy” in reference to Aaron Judge. However, there has been an aura of mystery and intrigue surrounding Aaron Judge’s recovery from his right big toe injury since June 3. Consequently, the Yankees are being cautious and deliberate in their choice of words when discussing their progress.

Boone admitted that Aaron Judge departed the team’s complex in Tampa, Fla., after engaging in two days of workouts. However, the manager refrained from confirming the New York Post report, which suggested the club’s intention to activate the slugger for Friday’s series opener against the Orioles.

Aaron Judge himself has acknowledged that he doesn’t anticipate being completely free of pain upon his return. Nevertheless, he has been actively participating in hitting, running, and throwing sessions in recent weeks. If Judge receives the go-ahead, his teammates will be elated to welcome back the reigning American League MVP, especially during this critical stretch that could define their season.

Rodon stated that he considered him to be arguably the best player in the game. He mentioned that it would be pleasant to have that bat in the lineup and see how he performs in the outfield. Having him back was described as having their captain and leader return, which would be a great addition for the team.

As the Yankees eagerly anticipate Aaron Judge’s return for a significant stretch, it appears that the reigning AL MVP is equally enthusiastic about pushing himself back into the lineup.

Rizzo mentioned that Aaron Judge has a genuine love for the game of baseball and enjoys playing it. Despite making it look effortless to onlookers, Judge puts in substantial work, preparation, and dedication behind the scenes. His relentless drive to continuously improve and surpass his own achievements is evident.

As per Rizzo, Aaron Judge holds a significant role as the face of baseball and the captain of the New York Yankees, and he takes this responsibility seriously. Rizzo expressed that as the AL MVP’s teammates and friends, they eagerly await his return and look forward to having him back in action.

Aaron Judge and others at Yankees dugout.
instagram – thejudge44

Yankees’ pivotal week

The Yankees embark on a pivotal week, commencing with a three-game series in Baltimore starting on Friday, followed by facing the Rays and Astros back at home. The outcome of these games will play a crucial role in shaping the roster ahead of Tuesday’s Trade Deadline, and it will be closely scrutinized by general manager Brian Cashman and his team.

Infielder-outfielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa remarked that they were all aware of the challenging week ahead. He emphasized the importance of taking care of business to contribute positively to the team’s success.

While finding themselves in the unfamiliar position of last place in the American League East, trailing the division-leading Orioles by eight games, the Yankees (54-48) managed to stay within striking distance of a Wild Card spot, entering Thursday’s off-day just 2 1/2 games behind.

Manager Aaron Boone encouraged the team with a spirited, “Let’s go, baby.” He expressed the team’s awareness of their current situation, acknowledging that they were approaching the final months of the season. Boone emphasized the significance of the upcoming games and series, highlighting the excitement that comes with such crucial moments in the season.

There is a belief that the Yankees have intentions to make additions before the Deadline. However, they appear hesitant to part ways with their top prospects, like Jasson Domínguez and Everson Pereira, in any potential deals.

Several apparent needs have arisen for the Yankees, starting with left field, which has seen rotation among nine different players this season. Notably, Oswaldo Cabrera, who leads the team with 36 games at that position, is presently in Triple-A. As per published reports, the Yankees have been linked to players like Cody Bellinger from the Cubs, Dylan Carlson from the Cardinals, and Randal Grichuk from the Rockies as potential solutions to fill the left-field position.

Given Jose Trevino’s upcoming season-ending surgery, the Yankees might explore the possibility of acquiring a catcher to bolster their current duo of Kyle Higashioka and Ben Rortvedt. While the bullpen managed a perfect 3 1/3 innings in relief of Rodón on Wednesday, signs of fatigue have emerged lately, though the imminent return of Jonathan Loáisiga should bring a fresh arm to the mix.

For Yankees fans, the prospect of putting Aaron Judge’s name into the lineup on Friday adds an extra layer of excitement and anticipation.

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