The Yankee offense is a scary entity when both Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are swinging the bat to their capability, but as Stanton has heated up over the past two weeks, Judge has begun to cool down significantly.
The slugging outfielder went 0-for-4 in Friday night’s loss to the Nationals, including a pair of strikeouts, marking the fourth straight games in which he’s struck out multiple times. Over his five games, Judge has just one hit, a single, in his last 21 plate appearances, and has struck out 12 times in that span.
That strikeout total was significantly inflated by a disastrous five strikeout game against the Astros on Wednesday, but it’s a far cry from his first game back from a couple days of rest on April 30, when he went 2-for-4 with two home runs, including a grand slam, then went 3-for-5 the next day.
“He had the one game where he had the strikeouts where I think it’s a case of he’s getting a good swing off and getting some pitches within the at-bat,” Aaron Boone said after Friday’s loss. “But again, it comes down to when you get that pitch, to put it in play.”
Judge has struggled to put anything in play of late, getting nothing more than a hard groundout on Friday. His swing and miss percentage is up 12 percent from April, while half of his balls in play have been on the ground, far from the optimal type of contact for a hitter with some of the most raw power in the game.
“I feel like Houston pitched him tough, and when you get your pitch and foul it off or whatever, that’s when you get yourself in a hole,” Boone said. “But tonight, he smoked that ball up the middle his first time up, I thought got some pitches to handle where he just fouled them off, so I’m not too worried about him.”
Judge’s slump shouldn’t be seen as a major cause of concern, as it’s been a small sample size and he had been one of the team’s most productive bats before this rough stretch. But he has been striking out at a rate that rivals his 2016 season, and while he has been healthy and on the field, he hasn’t been hitting anywhere close to his April marks. But Boone doesn’t anticipate that lasting much longer.
“Greatness has a way of figuring it out,” Boone said. “You know along the way you’ll have a couple bumps here and there in a couple games.”
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1