NY Sports Day
Rich Mancuso

Mancuso: No Judge But There Is Happ & Britton

Neil Miller/ NYSD

No Gary Sanchez until the end of August. And Thursday night in the Bronx the Yankees lost Aaron Judge for the next three weeks after sustaining a chip fracture to the right wrist that will not require surgery.

And before you say the Yankees are done because two major threats in their lineup are out, don’t.  Yes the home run ball is a threat and Judge out of the lineup will diminish that probability. But the game revolves around pitching and the Yankees quest to overtake the Red Sox got better in the past two days with the additions of Zach Britton in the bullpen and J.A. Happ in the starting rotation.

Then there is Sonny Gray who seems to have turned it around and got the win after throwing 5.0 innings that was cut short after getting hit in the thumb of his pitching hand by a hard grounder. But Gray will have a precautionary X-ray and is expected to make his next start in the next five or six days.

The concern is about Judge and at one point fans at Yankee Stadium held a vigil holding up cell phone lights to the sky. He is their Judge and the important cog in that Yankees lineup. So if this injury has Judge out of his chamber for more than three weeks then there is a concern.

The good news was about Sonny Gray after the Yankees 7-2 win over the lowly Kansas City Royals. He earned his eight win of the season and won his third straight start for the first time since last July.  He used the slider, sinker, and the curve to get out of jams.

“He’s getting into better rhythms,” Manager Aaron Boone said.  “More counts where he is ahead of the counts.In jams made some really good pitches.  He’s made pitches when he’s got in trouble the last few times. Done that a lot of that lately.”

But with Judge out of the lineup, and this brief loss of 26 home runs and 61 RBI, the Yankees have one less threat to overtake the Red Sox.  And for the first time in three games the home run ball returned with a three-run shot to right in the fourth inning from Didi Gregorius, his 18th that opened up a 6-0 lead.

Boone was concerned about Judge. But if this lineup hits home runs, and the Yankees have been on a record pace, a short term absence of Aaron Judge will not hurt. Aaron Hicks said “He’s a big part of the lineup.”

And pitching is a major part of the game. So with that, GM Brian Cashman made significant additions with Britton in the bullpen, and with Haap as that starter that has been talked about. It makes the Yankees stronger in their pen which was the best in baseball with a 2.78 ERA and starters can throw a limited amount of innings with Britton, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, David Robertson, and Aroldis Chapman.

“This time of year we are definitely active, so everybody is whether you’re contending or not,” Cashman said. Everybody is trying to improve their roster so we’re planning on that on every level. We are fully engaged as everybody else is.”

Meaning, as Cashman does best, the Yankees may not be done wheeling and dealing before the Tuesday non-waiver trade deadline. And with Judge and Sanchez out of the lineup, plus this must to overtake the Red Sox for the division, rest assured that Cashman will still be working the phones.

Sonny Gray is a revived pitcher, and assuming the X-Ray comes back clean, that spot in the rotation is looking good. CC Sabathia is always a mystery with his knees and age against him, Masahiro Tanaka is coming off a complete game and playoff ready. Luis Severino, the ace, is coming off a shaky start but overall there should be no worries.

Worry about missing the bat of Aaron Judge in the lineup, yes for that limited time he can’t put a bat in his hand. And it could have been worse if Judge had been disabled the remainder of this season. That was a concern when he exited the game for an X-Ray that led to an MRI and C-Scan.

The Yankees lost their All-Star. But they gained another one in Happ who could start a game this weekend. And the bullpen is stronger with the addition of Britton who made his Yankees debut with a clean eighth inning.

They are obsessed with overtaking the Red Sox and Aaron Judge does have to be a part of that. But hey, Brian Cashman may not be done and there is time to do more before that deadline of July 31.

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