The MLB season is long, and for every player there are peaks and declines. Even the MLB Stars can hit a slump at some stage of the year, and the worst time for that to come is right at the end of the season as we head towards the playoffs and the World Series. For starting players that are underperforming now, it’s imperative that they get bench time so that they can come into the post season refreshed, or teams can at least run alternative players so that they’ve got rotation experience for the important games ahead.While there are plenty of stars on the disabled list due to injuries right now, there are a few others who we feel could benefit from some bench time, rather than running through their slumps that have started to emerge.Here are three players who we feel are close to becoming liabilities if they don’t get time for rest and reflection.

MLB Stars Who Aren’t Performing:

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge

Earlier this week, New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge was seen with his shoulder wrapped in ice, which has become something of a familiarity this year. We also saw him slump in the weekend against Boston, and it’s not the first time this year that his performance has declined in the middle of a game.Although nobody is admitting it, there’s a strong indication that Judge has something wrong, even if it’s not a full blown injury. The team manager Joe Girardi gave nothing away to reporters, saying “That’s been maintenance. That’s something he’s been doing for a while. There are a lot of guys that do maintenance things. They ice a lot of different body parts and go from the ice tub to the hot tub. It’s a long year. There are a lot of swings and there’s a lot of diving and your body gets sore.” While Girardi didn’t seem to be concerned about the ice, he did at least seem concerned about the performance.Judge was dropped one place in their starting lineup, but he may benefit from more. If there is a lingering injury or even just some kind of strain that is hindering his performance, then it would make sense to rest him more before the post season. At the same time, they’ll be able to play their other options and get a real feel for how this team could perform after the regular season. Aaron Judge is still one of the best in this sport, but the slump he’s going through at the moment is plain to see.

Kansas City Royals: Alex Gordon

There was a lot of speculation earlier in August that Gordon was about to benched. However, it never turned out to be, and he has actually appeared in every game and even made it back to the starting lineup. Alex has helped win games this month, and his performance against Oakland on August the 16th was particularly noteworthy. When he was taken off the starting rotation, he seemed to relax more and came back looking refreshed. However, it might not have been enough, and we think that Alex could benefit more from being given more time out of the starting lineup, even if it doesn’t mean ‘benching’ him in the fullest sense of the word.When a player gets taken out of a starting position they have more time to prepare, they drop a lot of the pressure that is normally on them, and they are able to focus more on fitness and training. When a player is struggling to be consistent (and it could be argued that Alex is in this situation), then having more time to focus on their swing, rather than worry about performing as a starter, can work wonders and can get them back to peak performance.Gordon is probably going to continue as a starter and team manger Ned Yost doesn’t seem to have any intention of benching him at this time. Yost told the Kansas City Star that “We’ll just see if we can’t give Gordy a couple of days off and get him going. We’ll take some days off here and see if he can’t hit the rest a little bit, get in to do some work with Dale [Dale Sveum, Hitting Coach]”.While it looks like the Royals do recognize they have some problems with Gordon, we’ll need to wait and see if their half-committed approach to giving Gordon time off will benefit them in their upcoming games.

Chicago Cubs: Ben Zobrist

It’s strange to see a 2016 World Series MVP on this list, but the reality of baseball is that burnout is a risk for any player. Zobrist is 36 years of age, and is probably running into the later stages of his career. Most would agree that his performance will start to plateau and decline in the coming years, and this season seems to show an indicator of that.He hasn’t had as many plate appearances this year as he has in previous years, but even if he did, his OPS would be somewhere near the bottom of the 72 different batters in the National League. His batting average and on base percentage have both been disappointing, and he’s simply not the same player that we saw in the World Series winning team last season. Despite not bringing the results, the team still insists on playing him, and team manager Joe Maddon recently said that his best is yet to come. He told media “this is his time of the year.” Anybody watching from the outside would probably disagree, and Zobrist is clearly a man in need of rest, after so many injuries that have prevented him from getting the best out of this season.

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