Fantasy Baseball: Clint Frazier, Mike Tauchman are your Aaron Judge replacements
There's no replacing what Aaron Judge brings to the field for the Yankees or your Fantasy lineup. But the Yankees have two in-house options worth considering for at least the next few weeks, if not longer
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Maybe the Yankees are the cursed team now? They added to their long list of injuries this weekend, and the latest blow might be the biggest, as Aaron Judge has been sidelined by a "significant" oblique injury.
Judge suffered the injury while swinging Saturday, and immediately had to come out of the game. The Yankees haven't given a timetable, but he's already been placed on the Injured List. The average time missed for oblique injuries is just over three weeks, but it's hard to say just how long Judge might be out until we learn the severity of the injury. But just to provide some context: Miguel Cabrera missed just 12 days with a Grade 1 oblique strain in 2017; Matt Carpenter missed a month in 2016 with a Grade 2 strain.
So, we're probably looking at something like 2-4 weeks before Judge can return, though the time missed isn't the only concern. Oblique injuries have a tendency to linger, even once a player is fully "healed." Carpenter missed just under a month with his injury 2016, but saw his OPS drop from .988 before the injury to just .726 after.
Hopefully, we'll see Judge sooner than later, but it's in everyone's best interests to make sure he is fully recovered before coming back. That may push the timetable back a bit, which means you've got to find a replacement for Judge in the lineup.
The good news? The Yankees aren't short on possible replacements. While Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks are both sidelined with injuries of their own, they've actually received pretty good production from replacement options in the outfield so far. And Fantasy players —not just those who lost Judge — will want to focus on acquiring both.
The priority target should be Clint Frazier (69% owned), who finally seems to be living up to his potential after struggling with injuries in recent years. The 24-year-old who hit .268/.344/.487 with 25 homers and 13 steals in 152 career games at Triple-A has been arguably the team's best hitter in the majors in 2019. In 17 games, Frazier is hitting .339/.358/.661 with six homers, and his batted-ball data mostly backs it up.
The other option to consider is likely more of a short-term one, but he also may be another incredible win for the Yankees' scouting team: Mike Tauchman (5%). Tauchman was acquired from the Rockies just before the season, after hitting over .312/.377/.493 in 351 career Triple-A games. Like Frazier, Tauchman brings a bit of speed to the table (51 steals at Triple-A) and has been hitting the ball well early in his Yankees' career with a .242/.342/.636 line in his first 14 games. For more on Tauchman, check out Alex Chamberlain's Week 5 'Top Hitters to Target' column on SportsLine.com.
At the very least, both Tauchman and Frazier should have opportunities to play regularly in the near-term, and Frazier looks like a must-start option for as long as that's the case.
Unfortunately, things could get pretty dicey quickly. If Stanton and Hicks return in the next few weeks, that likely still leaves Frazier a spot in the lineup most days, with Stanton getting time at DH and Hicks getting regular time off to keep him healthy. In this scenario, Tauchman may even be able to get four starts per week.
However, if the Yankees ever do manage to get healthy, Frazier might end up the odd man out. They'll have three outfield spots to juggle time between Judge, Brett Gardner, and Hicks, with Stanton at DH. Unless, of course, Miguel Andujar gets healthy; the Yankees have talked about using him at DH if his shoulder injury limits him from playing the field. Which would only make things even more complicated.
That would leave Stanton, Hicks, Frazier, Andujar and Luke Voit to split playing time between three spots, at first, DH, and one outfield spot. You could add in Brett Gardner and make it six players for four spots, but it doesn't really change the math. There are playing time concerns coming.
We'll worry about that when it comes. If it comes. With the way things have been going for the Yankees this season, playing time may not end up being an issue for anyone —at least anyone who manages to avoid the IL.
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