The 61st home run has seemed harder to come by than the previous 60 for Aaron Judge, but the Yankees slugger has kept the focus on one thing; winning the division.
On Wednesday the Yankees did that with a win over the Toronto Blue Jays even as Judge went his eighth straight game without a home run. Now with the AL East locked up, the Yankees need to start looking towards the playoffs and what’s best to put the team in a position to finally win its first title since 2009.
And that includes deciding when to rest Judge so that he is fresh for the postseason. It almost seemed sacrilege to think about resting the Yankees’ biggest bat before he reached 61, but with games dwindling to just seven after Wednesday’s series finale with the Jays, now might be the time for skipper Aaron Boone to rest one of his most important players, record or no record.
Judge has played an absorbent amount of games this season. In the last 118 games, Judge had been in the lineup for 116 of them dating back to May 17.
It would be safe to reason that it would be worth giving Judge some downtime now that the division has been locked up and opposing pitchers have been more than happy to throw around the Yankees slugger. Since his 60th home run of the season, Judge has walked 12 times.
That’s no to say he has been complaining. “I’ll take four walks for a win every single day,” Judge told reporters following Tuesday’s AL East clinching win.
Still, Yankees skipper Aaron Boone understands that a break would be good for anyone on the team that needed it.
“You can pick your spots where a lot of these guys have been through the grind in the season,” Boone said, according to Sports Illustrated’s Max Goodman. “Everyone’s a little nicked up, but it’s more about getting guys healthy and strong and fresh as can be while also keeping them sharp. So we’re trying to strike that balance every day. Really nice to get this done today and not have this linger on and just proud of the group.”
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Boone opened the door to resting Judge last weekend when asked about it while many were still holding out hope that he’d belt No. 61 while the team was still in the Bronx. Judge wasn’t able to hit it in the Yankees first two games in Toronto and even if the recording tying blast comes, No. 62 becomes the next milestone everyone focuses on.
Boone said that he speaks with Judge regularly about when he could need a break, and they take the decision day by day. As baseball returns to the Bronx for the final home series of the regular season with the Baltimore Orioles, now seems as good a time as any to give their star some much-needed rest,