Yankees Keepers: Aaron Judge’s worst slump of 2022 comes at wrong time – CBS Sports

Yankees Keepers: Aaron Judge's worst slump of 2022 comes at wrong time - CBS Sports

NEW YORK — No player in baseball had a better regular season than Aaron Judge, and through two games, no player in the American League had a worse postseason than Judge. The 62-homer went 0 for 5 in New York’s Game 2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians, and is 0 for 8 with seven strikeouts in the series. Judge even heard boos after his fourth strikeout.

“It’s the Bronx, man,” yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the boos after Game 2.

Judge missed eight of his 13 swings in Game 2, an astronomical rate, and Game 2 was his first four-strikeout game since last June. It was his fourth career four-strikeout game in the postseason and all four came against Cleveland — Judge had four strikeouts in Games 1, 4 and 5 of the 2017 ALDS. His career postseason numbers:

against Cleveland

44

.054/.205/.161

1

61.4%

vs. everyone else

120

.287/.383/.614

10

22.5%

“I think a lot of the day they executed against him,” Boone said. “A couple of the pitches he got, he got fouled. I think a lot of today was a product of executing them and just having a tough day picking up spin and things like that.”

It should be noted that Judge’s rough two ALDS games are a really rough few weeks dating back to the regular season. He went 8 for 37 (.216) with 15 strikeouts in his final 13 regular season games as he chased home runs #61 and 62. Teams didn’t give Judge much to hit late in the season, but the Guardians goes after him, and getting out of competitive swings was not easy.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but if we did (have a plan to shut Judge down), I’m not sure I’d really want to share it. That doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said after Game 2. “I think that sometimes — hitters can’t hit a button. As good as guys are, sometimes guys take 0-off. Until you get through a series successfully, I don’t think anybody is going to stand here and beat our chest. He’s too dangerous . We know that.”

In addition to shutting Judge down, the Rangers also deserve credit for shutting down the hitters in front of him. Judge did not hit with a single runner based on that streak. He’s in scoring position when he’s in the batter’s box, but keeping runners off base in front of him makes it a little easier to go after him, and gives pitchers more margin for error. Cleveland managed to do that. They are putting themselves in a position to succeed against Judge.

The Yankees won Game 1 without Judge contributing much (he drew a walk and stole a base before Anthony Rizzo’s two-run insurance homer) and they might even be able to win the ALDS without him contributing much (see: 2017 ALDS), but there little chance they can win a title without him being a major factor. New York’s lineup is too thin after the top 4-5 hitters to consistently win while getting nothing from Judge.

Two games don’t make a postseason, and the Yankees are even in the series rather than trailing, but they’re at their best when Judge is a threat to change the game with every swing every at-bat. Right now, just getting the bat on the ball was a challenge. The sooner Judge gets back into a groove at the plate, the better New York’s changes move on. Right now, he looks as lost as he ever will in 2022.

“It’s baseball. You’re up against the best. Tough hitting conditions. Great hitters go 0-for on a given day. Great hitters fail more often than they succeed even when you’re rolling,” Boone said. “They neutralized him here these first couple of days, threw him really hard, but he’ll be back on the horse and he’ll be just as dangerous as they come tomorrow night.”

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