Home News Anthony Rizzo’s funk looms over pressure-filled Yankees stretch

Anthony Rizzo’s funk looms over pressure-filled Yankees stretch

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The Yankees’ lineup has not only been missing Aaron Judge.

Since the club’s captain went down, Josh Donaldson is hitting .091.

Giancarlo Stanton has not been much better at .115.

DJ LeMahieu has batted .185 with seven strikeouts and one walk.

Gleyber Torres has been scuffling with a .172 average.

But the biggest funk has belonged to Anthony Rizzo, who has played in eight of the nine games since Judge hurt his toe and has recorded two total hits.

Are Rizzo and the Yankees’ veterans attempting to overcompensate for the loss of their best player?

“Trying to be someone else is not going to do any good,” Rizzo said after going 0-for-3 with a hit by pitch in Wednesday’s 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Mets. “I don’t think subconsciously guys are trying to do too much.”

Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo throws his bat after he flies out to end the 8th inning at Yankee Stadium.

The first baseman’s slump even predates Judge suffering a contusion and a ligament sprain in his right big toe on June 3 in Los Angeles.

For the entirety of this month, Rizzo has gone 2-for-37 (.054) without an extra-base hit.

Rizzo singled into left field Tuesday, snapping a career-worst 0-for-24 drought.

But the hit did not appear to solve anything — he has gone hitless in six at-bats with three strikeouts since.

If the problem is not mental, it could be physical.

The Yankees have maintained that Rizzo is OK after he missed a late-May series in Seattle with a stiff neck.

He and Fernando Tatis Jr. collided May 27 in a pickoff play at first base, forcing Rizzo to the bench for three games.

Manager Aaron Boone has said Rizzo’s neck is fine.

“Just a little bit off,” the manager said this week about Rizzo’s swing. “He’ll go through these things a little bit during the season, but he’ll also figure it out.

Anthony Rizzo has been in a slump and has failed to step in the absence of Aaron Judge.
Anthony Rizzo has been in a slump and has failed to step in the absence of Aaron Judge.

“He’s a unique hitter, so it’s hard for me to relate to what he does. But he obviously does it really well and has for a long, long time.”

This downturn is poorly timed.

Without Judge, the Yankees have scored 31 runs in nine games (3.4 per game) before beginning a series Friday in Boston.

Their pitching, particularly the bullpen, has kept them afloat, but the Yankees — who still publicly have not said how long Judge will be sidelined — had fallen nine games behind the Rays in the AL East heading into Thursday.

Before this plunge, Rizzo was the Yankees’ most reliable player and arguably their most valuable.

Before he absorbed the blow from Tatis’ hip, Rizzo was hitting .304 with an .880 OPS and looked to be a front-runner for the All-Star team.

Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo (48) gets injured on play at first base getting San Diego Padres right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. (23) out
Rizzo missed three games after a collision with Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr.
Robert Sabo for NY Post

Ten games later, Rizzo’s average has plunged to .266 and OPS to .779.

Wednesday, Rizzo’s most productive at-bat was a seventh-inning hit-by-pitch — drilled in the forearm for the 209th plunking of his career — but otherwise he failed to come through.

In the top of the ninth inning of a tie game, Rizzo saw four knuckle-curves from David Robertson.

The final one he swung through for his 10th strikeout in 10 games this month.

Rizzo has not homered all month and has gone 17 straight games without a dinger.

Without Judge and with the ensuing power outage, the Yankees need to come up with timely hits.

They did not Wednesday, when they finished 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

“The more we can put ourselves in that position, the better off we’ll be in the long run,” Rizzo said about the team’s failures in the clutch. “So we just got to keep getting guys up there in that position and keep firing away.”

Maybe it’s the neck. Maybe it’s a slump.

Maybe the Yankees are feeling the pressure without their best player.

“If you try to get two hits in one at-bat, I haven’t seen [that happen] yet,” Rizzo said. “You gotta stay the course in this game and just keep weathering the storm.”

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