HOUSTON — It should come as no surprise that Aaron Judge will start the All-Star Game — and now it’s official.
Since Judge was the top vote-getter in the American League through the first phase of voting, he automatically gets a starting spot. Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr., the top vote-getter in the National League, will also be in the starting lineup for the NL.
The second phase of voting begins Tuesday, with Jose Trevino and Giancarlo Stanton making the cut as finalists — in addition to Judge. The All-Star Game will be played July 19 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
Judge entered Thursday with an MLB-best 29 homers and he’s already tied with Mickey Mantle for fourth-most homers before the All-Star break in franchise history. Roger Maris had 33 in his record-setting season of 1961, while Alex Rodriguez (in 2007) and Judge (in 2017) had 30.
It’s all part of what is shaping up to be an incredible year for Judge as he heads toward free agency.
Aaron Boone said Aroldis Chapman will be activated Friday, in time for the series opener in Cleveland.
Chapman has been sidelined since May 24 with left Achilles tendinitis.
Boone added he would try to “pick spots to get him in where he can be successful.”
That could be “anywhere from high-leverage, to mid-leverage to low-leverage to getting him in and getting him going.”
Most importantly, the Yankees want him to stay in his delivery and get into a rhythm, but Boone also acknowledged he might not be able to pick a perfect spot for Chapman’s return.
“Sometimes you don’t have that choice,’’ Boone said. “If there’s part of the lineup you feel he can go be successful in a situation, I won’t hesitate to get him in.”
And Boone added if Chapman regains his form, he’ll be fine whenever he pitches.
“The thing with [Chapman] is if he’s in his delivery and throwing strikes, he’s gonna be dynamic right away. If he’s right, he can dominate.”
Heading into Thursday’s game, each of Stanton’s previous six hits — and eight of his past 10 — were home runs.
It’s part of an odd stretch in which Stanton is 6-for-57 with a dozen strikeouts.
“It’s interesting, because I haven’t had a bunch of hits, but they’ve all been homers,’’ Stanton said. “I wouldn’t say it’s being a great overall hitter, but at least they’re not all singles.”
Stanton also started in left field on Thursday, with Joey Gallo in right.
Boone noted that left field is smaller than right at Minute Maid Park and said Stanton would likely also play left in the upcoming series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, where left field is smaller than right, as well.