Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge entered Thursday afternoon’s game against the Orioles with 38 home runs, tying him with Wally Berger and Frank Robinson for the second-most home runs hit in a season by a rookie. The slugger mashed a two-run home run in the top of the first inning, boosting the Yankees’ lead to 3-0, to take sole possession of second place.
The record is held by Mark McGwire, who hit 49 dingers for the Athletics in 1987. Judge will need to hit 10 home runs over the final 23 games of the season. If it’s first-half Judge we’re talking about, that’d be no problem, but second-half Judge has been a less powerful hitter. He hit 30 home runs in 366 PA (one homer per 12.2 PA) in the first half, but has managed just 13 in 314 (one homer per 24.1 PA) in the second half.
Overall, Judge is batting .276/.412/.574 with 87 RBI and 104 runs scored along with the 39 round-trippers.
The Phillies announced that they’ve optioned right-hander Hector Neris to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Nerris, who saved 26 games as the Phillies closer in 2017 and ten games in that role this year, has struggled this year, posting a 6.00 ERA in 30 appearances. While his strikeout and walk rates aren’t too far off what he was doing last year his hit rate has spiked and he’s currently allowing 10.3 safeties per nine. The wheels have come off of late, as he has allowed nine runs on 15 hits — five of them homers — over his last eight innings of work. Yesterday he allowed four runs in the ninth inning of a game the Phillies had led by five.
It was clear that Gabe Kapler had lost faith in Neris as a result, using him almost exclusively in low-leverage situations. That changed on Saturday, as Kapler used him in a save situation and said after the game that they were easing him back into his role. That plan obviously changed after yesterday’s meltdown.
Seranthony Dominguez had been getting the call in save situations. He’ll get them more now.