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A healthy Matt Holliday gives the Yankees a boost down the stretch

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Matt Holliday has finally returned to the Bronx and to everyone’s surprise, he’s succeeding

MLB: Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees
Holliday ropes a pitch
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Holliday is back with the Yankees after a prolonged absence because of a lumbar strain. He was kept on a rehab assignment longer than usual probably because the Yankees weren't sure if he had anything left in the tank. After all, he did hit just .200 during his rehab assignment, and keep in mind that's against minor league pitching. Well, upon return, Holliday has made his presence felt.

He recently homered in two straight games, including one off Chris Sale. What he's done on the diamond since coming off the DL can't be ignored. He has jumpstarted this lineup similar to how Aaron Hicks did a few weeks ago. If he keeps hitting, he'll be back in the DH spot even with Greg Bird, Chase Headley, and Todd Frazier all vouching for playing time. If Holliday, over a longer period of time, can prove he isn't toast yet, he could be right back in the middle of the Yankees lineup like he was earlier this season. Some people forget how awesome Holliday was hitting cleanup in the first half. It's a little too early to say what will happen yet, but, for now, Holliday is back.

One very underrated part of Holliday's game is his work off the field. Part of the reason why the Yankees signed Holliday to a one-year, $13 million deal this offseason was because of his mentoring capabilities. Throughout spring training and the beginning of the year, everyone from Aaron Judge to Dellin Betances to Joe Girardi praised Holliday's veteran leadership and mentoring experience. Holliday is at the core of this team's leadership along with Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia, and now that he's back, the team should see a boost in the clubhouse moving forward.

To delve deeper into Holliday's influence, we look no further than Aaron Judge. At the beginning of the year, Judge was reportedly glued to Holliday, trying to extract any knowledge and help that could improve his game. We saw Judge's first half and while I'm not saying it was because of Matt Holliday, the DH may have at least played a small part in Judge's success. I'm curious to see how Aaron Judge performs now that Holliday is off the DL.

While it's a small sample size, Holliday seems to have captured a bit of his first half magic. Rested and ready to mash, Holliday is capable of being another thumper in the Yankees lineup. In addition, he can be another leader in a young Yankees locker room. Hopefully Holliday can keep his recent success going both on and off the field and prove to everyone that he can still crush baseballs with his massive forearms.