New York Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge was drilled in the right wrist by a 93-mph fastball in the first inning of the team’s game against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.
Here's Aaron Judge getting hit by a pitch in the first. He was pissed, clearly. pic.twitter.com/7poeWkuRqM
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) July 27, 2018
Judge actually stayed in the game and singled in the second inning, before finally leaving the game in the fourth. The 26-year-old then went to get an MRI, and while the news could be worse, it’s not exactly good.
Judge was diagnosed with a chip fracture of the right wrist, and the Yankees estimate he won’t be able to swing a bat “in a game situation” for three weeks.
Tonight OF Aaron Judge sustained a chip fracture of the right wrist (ulnar styloid bone). No surgery has been recommended. The Yankees approximate a 3-week time period before Judge can swing a bat in a game situation.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 27, 2018
So, if he can’t even swing a bat in a game situation for three weeks, we’re probably looking closer to a month for a realistic timetable. The Yankees may want him to go on a minor league rehab assignment, for example.
And that’s rough for the Yankees’ Al East title hopes.
New York is having a fantastic season, with a 65-36 record after their 7-2 win over the Royals on Thursday. However, they play in the same division as a Boston Red Sox team that is 4.5 games better at 71-33.
For the second straight season, Judge has been a monster. The right fielder has a .285/.398./.548 slash line, 26 homers, and is fifth in the majors in WAR according to FanGraphs at 5.1. The Yankees’ offense is still a very good unit (they currently lead MLB in wRC+ at 114), but Judge is easily their best hitter. They also upgraded their roster in the last week, with the additions of reliever Zach Britton and starting pitcher J.A. Happ.
But, on paper, the loss of Judge for at least a few weeks likely knocks the team down a win or two, and could essentially erase the expected impact from Britton and Happ for the rest of the regular season. When Judge returns in late August or early September, the Yankees’ roster will certainly be better. But this move hurts New York’s chances to win the AL East.
And winning the AL East is a very big deal. The Red Sox and Yankees are both going to make the playoffs, but only one of them is guaranteed of making the ALDS for a five-game series. The other team has to play in the AL Wild Card game, which is essentially a coin flip. Both teams are likely to win over 100 games and are juggernauts, but one of them could easily have their season end before the ALDS even starts.
So, this injury really hurts for the Yankees (along with Judge and his wrist surely, of course). Their position player talent is still exceptional, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Brian Cashman look to add one more bat to try to *sort of* make up for the loss of Judge.