Banged-up Yankees limping to the finish line

Jon Heyman

By Jon Heyman

Jon Heyman


Banged-up Yankees limping to the finish line

MILWAUKEE — The Yankees’ pregame media session with manager Aaron Boone has devolved into one long and depressing medical report. And if this keeps going like this, when we say Aaron Judge wins a game single-handedly, it may be literal.

Don’t put it past Judge, as the Yankees’ all-world, do-everything superstar in recent days is out on the field with a collection of mostly backups, journeymen, rookies and general disappointments, and the Yankees are still winning about half their games.

Judge does what he can. Of course, the man on pace to break Roger Maris’ AL home run record is only one superhuman. With a double, a walk and a couple of nice plays in center field and then right field on Saturday night, Judge again wasn’t quite enough. The Brewers won their second straight, prevailing 4-1 thanks to a dominant eight innings from Brandon Woodruff and a three-run home run from Willy Adames before a near-sellout crowd of 41,210.

The Yankees once led the majors in wins, runs and a whole bunch of nice categories. But lately they lead in one only: Pain.

Poor Marwin Gonzalez, who left the game Friday night with a bout of dizziness, and was back in there Saturday out of necessity, as the third-string first baseman. With DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo still out, Gonzalez is the guy. But alas, he was literally knocked out Saturday during his first at-bat when Brewers catcher Victor Caratini carelessly threw a ball that ricocheted off the bill of Gonzalez’s helmet in an attempt to toss it back to the pitcher. It drew a welt on Gonzalez’s face and likely made him even dizzier than before.

Brewers catcher Victor Caratini checks on Marwin Gonzalez after he threw a ball that ricocheted off the bill of Gonzalez’s helmet. It drew a welt on Gonzalez’s face.
Brewers catcher Victor Caratini checks on Marwin Gonzalez after he threw a ball that ricocheted off the bill of Gonzalez’s helmet. It drew a welt on Gonzalez’s face.
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

A potentially more devastating injury was revealed before the game when pitcher Frankie Montas put on his civvies for a trip to the MRI tube to scan his right shoulder, the same shoulder that kept him out for 17 days a few weeks before the Yankees sent four prospects to Oakland for him and reliever Lou Trivino. And thank heavens for Trivino, the least heralded of the five big league pickups at the trade deadline, who now holds the distinction of being the only one fully healthy.

The widely celebrated Yankees deadline dealing (including here) now looks like nothing short of a disaster. Montas was the headliner, and he lugged a 6.35 ERA into the MRI room. He told The Post, hopefully, that the shoulder doesn’t feel as bad as it did when he went down in Oakland. “I don’t think it’s anything crazy,” he said. Still, if he misses another 17 days, that would take him to the end of the regular season and could render him inactive for the postseason.

The other injured acquisitions include reliever Scott Effross, who got off to a promising start with that save at Fenway Park, but is now working his way back from a shoulder concern, plus Andrew Benintendi and Harrison Bader, the two injured outfielders who have left Judge to team with a rotation of unproven players and kids out there, plus occasionally Aaron Hicks, who only has a bruised ego.

Benintendi, who suffered a broken wrist on a hit-by-pitch, could be back if the Yankees go deep into the playoffs, a very iffy proposition if the healing doesn’t begin soon. Bader is the elite center fielder we haven’t seen yet due to plantar fasciitis. The hope is he could appear as early as Tuesday, which wouldn’t come soon enough to stop the back–and-forth about the loss of Jordan Montgomery, who upset Yankees coaches by saying the reason for his resurgence is related to the Cardinals’ confidence in his four-seam fastball. Pitching coach Matt Blake and then Boone disagreed, and pointed out that his improvement may also have something to do with pitching in the easier NL Central. (Side note: the Yankees aren’t finding the Brewers of the NL Central so easy at the moment.)

Anyway, the appearance of Bader could give Judge a chance to settle back into right field, and lessen the strain on the fellow who has been carrying the Yankees these many weeks. The man needs a rest, if you could call right field a rest.

“We’re still beat up and banged up,” said Boone, who then added hopefully that they are looking for returns for some key guys.

One of those guys is Rizzo, who had 30 home runs before going out and could provide necessary protection for Judge. Stanton is nominated as the current guy to bat behind Judge, but judging by his at-bats lately, either his Achilles isn’t fully healed or he wasn’t ready to return. Stanton stuck out four times Saturday and the All-Star Game MVP is sinking fast toward .200 at .212.

Another of those guys is Luis Severino, who at his best could be a real shot in the arm. He could be back in the rotation Wednesday, a return even more necessary now that Montas’ status is suddenly in peril. It seems that when one guy is about to come back, another goes down. Unfortunately, it’s a vicious cycle that could ultimately prove the Yankees’ undoing.

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