Aaron Judge's strikeout problem looms as Yankees head to Game 5


The New York Yankees are winning in spite of star outfielder Aaron Judge. The team has clawed its way out of an 0-2 deficit in the American League Division Series, but their MVP candidate hasn’t been a part of the revival.

Through four games of the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians, Judge is just 1-for-15 with 12 strikeouts. That’s good for a .067/.263/.133 slash line.

Judge’s only hit came in the second inning of Monday’s 7-3 win. After striking out in his first plate appearance, Judge finally showed signs of life with a two-run double in the second inning. He was a crucial part of the Yankees offensive breakout during the inning, pushing their lead to 4-0.

After that, though, he was back to slumping. Judge struck out in the third, fifth and seventh innings, giving him four on the day. It was the second time in the series he’s struck out four times in a game.

A look at his numbers from each game against Cleveland doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

  • Game 1: 0-for-4, 4 strikeouts
  • Game 2: 0-for-3, 3 walks, 1 run, 1 strikeout
  • Game 3: 0-for-3, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
  • Game 4: 1-for-5, 2 RBI, 4 strikeouts

Despite that, the Yankees have managed to pull off two straight wins to even the series with Cleveland at 2-2. The two teams will meet one final time Wednesday night to determine who will play the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series.

Aaron Judge hasn’t performed well in the ALDS. (AP Photo)

It would help if Judge rebounded from his mini-slump for that contest. Right now, it’s tough to call his struggles anything more than small sample fluctuations, as Judge’s numbers were fantastic in September. During the month, he hit .311/.463/.889, solidifying his status as possibly the MVP front-runner.

That hot streak seemed to carry over in the American League wild-card game, as Judge went 2-for-4 with a home run to eliminate the Minnesota Twins from the postseason. After that game, he’s struggled.

Given Judge’s propensity for the long ball, he doesn’t have to do much in order to make a difference in a single game. Cleveland has pitched him well thus far, but all it takes is one mis-located pitch to get him back on track.

Cleveland has already let the Yankees come back from the dead. If they do the same with Judge, he might be the one to put the final nail in their coffin.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!