Aaron Judge
Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have played 62 games this season after Tuesday’s loss to the lowly White Sox. Aaron Judgeback on the injured list with a contusion and sprained ligament in his right big toe — has appeared in 49 of them.

Some quick schedule math — weather permitting and assuming Judge’s IL stint is backdated to last Sunday — indicates he will miss at least seven more games before he is eligible for activation. Given the fickle nature of foot injuries, he could miss more. In fact, it feels likely he misses more.

Which brings us to the uncomfortable truth that has to be addressed: Judge is on pace to have missed about 25% of the Bombers’ games in the first half of the year. He will miss at least 14 games for the fifth time in seven big league season and at least 20 for the fourth time. And yes, the Yankees may have a Judge injury problem again.

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You can acknowledge all of that, too, without taking away from Judge’s historic 2022 season or second-guessing the massive contract he earned after becoming the American League home run king. He still hit 62 dingers, even if the 155 games played turns out to have been a tad of a fluke.

Some will argue this is a bit dramatic. His latest injury came after he ran into a stadium wall while making a sensational catch. Not while jogging down to first base. But still, the Yankees are a poorly-constructed team built around Judge’s brilliance fighting in a pennant race. And when he is not around, first with a calf strain and now with the toe issue, things get very dicey. And this new malady sounds like it has the potential to linger for a while. It is not what you want.

The Judge contract was always unlikely to age with grace. Which was and is fine; giving him nine years and $360 million was the cost of doing business. The Yankees had no choice. But if it starts to age poorly now? Things could get ugly on several fronts. And that fear feels very real right now.

James Kratch can be reached at james.kratch@xlmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.