USATSI

After a 16-6 start, the Yankees are fighting for their lives to hold onto the eight seed in the American League, for the time being. A mass of injuries is at least a partial contributor to the backslide, though they are starting to get some bodies back. The two biggest bats in the order are arguably Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. Right now, the Yankees are hoping to get both back for next weekend. 

“I would say they’re both close,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said on a Zoom call Friday. “They’re both feeling well. They’re both doing well. Hopefully, we’re in the final days before they start getting some at-bats.”

The club has said both players are targeting a return next weekend. 

Judge, 28, has only played 18 games this season due to a calf injury. He came back from said injury on Aug. 26 and immediately was placed back on the injured list with the same injury. When he’s been able to stay on the field he’s been amazing. He’s hitting .292/.343/.738 (188 OPS+) with nine homers and 20 RBI. Just having his bat in the lineup makes worlds of difference. 

Ditto for Stanton, if he’s healthy. That’s always a big caveat, because he only played in 18 games last season. This year the count so far is 14. He’s hitting .293/.453/.585 (185 OPS+) with three homers and seven RBI. He’s been out since Aug. 8 with a left hamstring strain. 

If the Yankees get both sluggers back in time for the playoffs, they’ll be an insanely-tough draw for a top-level seed. Of course, there’s also time to work into the upper part of the playoff seeding. They entered Friday just two games behind the Blue Jays for the five and they are within striking range of whoever finishes second in the AL Central for the four. 

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