Analysis

Yankees: When Should We Expect Aaron Judge To Return?

The Yankees desperately need Aaron Judge back in the lineup and unfortunately, the recovery from his wrist injury is taking longer than originally expected.

As the Yankees have taken advantage of their soft schedule and the Red Sox have stumbled, the Yankees find themselves within six games of the Red Sox and we’ve been asking if it’s possible for them to win the AL East.

If they do have any chance to overtake the Red Sox, it will be with Aaron Judge in the lineup, but there has not been much good news regarding his injury.

Judge’s Injury

Aaron Judge was hit on the wrist by Jakob Junis on July 26 and suffered a chip fracture. Initial reports stated Judge would miss just three weeks, though now it is obvious those estimates were way too ambitious. Judge has missed 30 games so far and he is still not able to swing a bat or throw to his maximum capability.

False Alarm

On Monday, Judge was back on the field, carrying a bat and shagging flies, to the delight of Yankees fans everywhere. However, the celebration was premature, as we found out last year’s rookie of the year merely had a whiffle bat.

Judge’s wrist not only prevents him from swinging a bat, but he also cannot throw at full strength.

When Will Judge Return?

That three-week timetable jumped to four-to-six weeks and is now possibly seven weeks. Aaron Boone has stated he is confident Judge will return to full strength before the end of the season. Unless Boone has some skele-grow in his medicine cabinet, I’m not sure why he’s so confident. Judge’s fracture has been very slow to heal and he is still feeling pain.

Even if Judge is fully healthy by late September, what can the Yankees expect out of him? Wrist injuries are notoriously fickle and are known to sap a slugger’s power. Mark Teixeira’s wrist injury, though not a fracture, basically was the end of his career. Now, Judge did not require surgery and bones tend to heal better than tendons, but the prospect of a power-less Aaron Judge is enough to worry us all.

What is “Full Strength?”

Not only will Judge have to recover physically, but he will have to get his timing back. A seven-week timeline for full health puts his return in the middle of September, with the Yankees having just two weeks left in the regular season.

How much time will it take a (hopefully) healthy Judge to get back in the swing of things? The team is hoping it won’t take very long at all.

On September 14, the Yankees open up a homestand against the Blue Jays and then host the Red Sox and Orioles before heading on the road to end that season at Tampa and then finally at Fenway, in a series that could potentially decide the division.

Still No Rush

Just two weeks ago the Yankees were 10 games behind the Red Sox and seemingly content with playing for the Wild Card. Overcome with a slew of injuries, it would have been nice to tread water while trying to maintain a lead over Oakland for the first Wild Card spot. As we pointed out immediately after the disastrous four-game sweep by the Red Sox though, the Yankees were far from out of the division race.

A little bit of scheduling luck mixed with some regression from the Red Sox, and the Yankees have eyes on the division title again.

However, calls to rush Judge back to overcome a 6.5 game deficit with a month left in the season are foolhardy. The Yankees have been smart with their young talent, slow-walking Gary Sanchez and Judge during their injuries, and the team is still on pace for 100 wins. There’s no reason to jump the gun and risk not having Judge at least at full health.

The Yankees absolutely need Judge back for a potential Wild Card game. We all know what he can do in a big spot.

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