By Brendan Kuty | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Judge, their star slugger, fractured his right wrist when Royals starter Jacob Junis hit him with a 93-mph fastball in the first inning of Thursday’s 7-2 win. Judge played until the fourth inning. He won’t be be allowed to swing in game situations, the Yankees said in a statement, for three weeks. He’ll need rehab games after that. The whole timetable is looking like a month. That’s late August, early September. Not good.
So, what do the Yankees do?
Best bet is that they fill Judge’s spot internally. Giancarlo Stanton will probably take over as the everyday right fielder — a job he held eight years in Miami before moving to the Bronx this year. That’s not a problem. What could be a problem, however, is that the Yankees don’t quite have a fourth outfielder right now. Shane Robinson, who was called up from Triple-A on Thursday, is a good defender but doesn’t really hit. Maybe Tyler Wade could come up. The Yankees like his versatility. Clint Frazier (concussion) is on the major-league DL. Jacoby Ellsbury (back) still, as far as we know, isn’t performing baseball activities. The Yankees traded away Billy McKinney to the Blue Jays in the J.A. Happ deal on Thursday. But the trade deadline isn’t until Thursday. There are more than a few fill-in trade options that make sense, perhaps the most of all ex-Yankees and Mets slugger Curtis Granderson. Granderson is on Toronto. The Yankees have been talking to Toronto and they know which players in their farm system GM Ross Atkins likes. Granderson isn’t making much money, there’s still some thump in his bat, and do the Yankees want to force Brett Gardner to have to play every single day at this stage of his career?
Now, onto the lineup
Judge has been the Yankees’ primary No. 2 hitter. Entering Thursday, he’d hit there 96 times. Stanton had hit second three times. Didi Gregorius had been in the spot once. Would feel like putting Stanton in the No. 2 spot makes the most sense, especially considering how hot he’s been lately. Could also see Aaron Hicks bring his switch-hitting into the slot. Or maybe it’s time to promote Gleyber Torres there. The Torres idea doesn’t sound so bad, though the Yankees were slot to pull him from the bottom of the lineup for so long. Could see them doing the same here.
Man, I was wrong
When Gary Sanchez returned from his groin strain less than a week ago, I predicted that he’d have the biggest impact on the Yankees’ lineup in the second half … and then he pulled his lazy stunt in Tampa before telling the team he re-aggravated the groin, sidelining him until probably early September. I genuinely thought that there would be a fire lit under Sanchez considering his terrible first half and the amount of time he spent on the disabled list. Now, thanks to getting hurt again, he’ll have to get himself together (and FAST) at the end of the season as the Yankees gear up for the playoffs.