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What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

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Did you know that the Indians are in first place in the AL Central? The club just swept the Royals in a four-game series at home. Meanwhile, the White Sox were swept by the fourth-place Tigers, continuing a trend of Pale Hose incompetence dating back to nearly a month ago. And the Twins are, well, the Twins. So, the Central is thoroughly mediocre and seemingly up for grabs.

The Indians, seven games above .500, are slightly above average across the board. Their .324 weighted on-base average (wOBA) as a team ranks 10th in baseball despite Yan Gomes and 169 plate appearances of .578 OPS and Juan Uribe (155, .634). This is also despite Michael Brantley taking only 43 PA this season, and carrying Michael Martinez on the active roster.

Their rotation ERA of 3.98 is 11th-best in baseball, thanks in large part to Danny Salazar, whose 2.24 ERA over 11 starts isn’t quite representative of how he’s pitched thus far. And their bullpen ERA of 3.43 is 10th-best even with closer Cody Allen and set-up man Bryan Shaw owning mediocre ERA’s of 3.70 and 4.70, respectively.

In a tougher division, the Indians might not even be at .500 and could very well be in last place. But they’ve lucked out thus far as the Central has been a hot mess and the Twins have been siphoning wins to everybody. (To the White Sox and Tigers, six; to the Royals, five; to the Indians, two.)

Tonight, the Indians will match up with another surprisingly-good team in the Mariners. Trevor Bauer will face off against James Paxton at 10:10 PM EDT.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Chicago Cubs (Jon Lester) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Adam Morgan), 7:05 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Danny Duffy) @ Baltimore Orioles (Mike Wright), 7:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Matt Shoemaker) @ New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka), 7:05 PM EDT

New York Mets (Steven Matz) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Jonathon Niese), 7:05 PM EDT

Toronto Blue Jays (J.A.  Happ) @ Detroit Tigers (Michael Fulmer),  7:10 PM EDT

Houston Astros (Mike Fiers) @ Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis), 8:05 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Chris Archer) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray), 9:40 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Williams Perez) @ San Diego Padres (Christian Friedrich), 10:10 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Tyler Chatwood) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Mike Bolsinger), 10:10 PM EDT

Yankees place Aaron Judge (strained calf) on IL

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Yankees star Aaron Judge was placed on the injured list with a right calf strain before Friday night’s game against Boston and manager Aaron Boone is optimistic the outfielder will not miss significant time.

The move was retroactive to Wednesday and Boone described the strain as mild after an MRI revealed the injury. To replace Judge on the roster, Thairo Estrada was recalled from the Yankees’ alternate site in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Judge began Friday leading the majors with nine homers and tied with Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the major league lead with 20 RBIs.

“It’s something that I think he really wants to try and work through here and kind of wants to be out here and feels like it’s a day-to-day thing which it may very well be, but I just think obviously it goes without saying how important a player Aaron is to us,” Boone said.

Boone had said last weekend’s series on the artificial turf in Tampa Bay took its toll on the 6-foot-7 outfielder.

Judge joined Giancarlo Stanton as the second Yankees slugger to land on the injured list this. Stanton was placed on the IL with a strained hamstring after getting hurt in the second game of last Saturday’s doubleheader.

“We’ve lost two MVP-caliber players,” Boone said. “Obviously that is a blow, especially two guys that playing well as they are right now.”

Judge was pulled for a pinch hitter during Tuesday night’s win over Atlanta and didn’t play Wednesday. The Yankees were off Thursday.

The 28-year-old All-Star missed time during July’s training camp because of a stiff neck.

The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year hit 27 homers in each of the last two seasons, both of them interrupted by injuries. His right wrist was broken when he was hit by a pitch in 2018 and he went on the injured list for two months last year with a left oblique strain.

Judge was diagnosed with a broken rib in March and would not have been ready for the season opener if the season began as scheduled on March 26.