Bronx, NY: The New York Yankees are nine and a half games back of the Red Sox through Sunday and the Sox are on pace to challenge for most wins in a season. It’s time for the Yankees to reel it in and cast their line closer to shore. The big fish got away and it’s time to cut bait and cast for the wildcard. Right? Not so fast. A deeper dive reveals a few reasons the Yankees should still go for the division.
Six More Against the Sox
It’s likely these six games will end up 3-3 or 4-2 and won’t move the needle enough. But there has been some wild momentum swinging series between these teams over the years. Strange things can happen. If the Yankees can manage to win five of six, the rest seems manageable. And the Yankees finish with three in Boston. So if they can get within three games, that series will be exciting, at least for one night.
An Easy Schedule
Other than the Sox, the Yankees play two teams against with legit playoff aspirations, the Mariners and A’s, on the same road trip in early September. Otherwise, the schedule is filled with the traditional Yankees punching bags. There will be a lot of September games against teams with an eye on next year. The Red Sox schedule isn’t bad, but they do have tough series against Atlanta, Cleveland twice, and Houston.
September Call Ups
The Yankees have a strong bullpen but it has shown signs of wear. With Sonny Gray as the only long man and a lot of one inning closer-types, these guys have had to pitch a lot. When the rosters expand, they can ease the burden and get their bullpen studs ready for the playoffs.
Return of the Judge (and Sanchez)
The Yankees have been pretty mediocre without Judge and the big man is expected to return in few weeks. Gary Sanchez will return around the same time, and he seems likely to get hot at some point. With Giancarlo Stanton finding the stroke, and a notorious second half hitter, the Yankees offense could be hitting on all cylinders down the stretch.
So You’re Saying There’s a Chance?
Here’s what has to happen. They need to beat the hell out of the undercard fighters on the schedule in the rest of August. August is key. The Red Sox stumble a little (they have to, right?) and the Yanks make some headway. They survive the road trip out west in early September, and if they’re in range, they go all out to sweep the series versus the Sox in mid September. From there, they put the hammer down to get within three before the final showdown in Boston.
If all doesn’t go as planned, they can reel it in, rest the bullpen and set up Luis Severino to pitch in the wildcard game.
I know what you’re thinking. Chris Sale is back, David Price is heating up, Boston’s lineup is deadly and it ain’t 1978. And the Yankees have at times played down to their competition, struggling against Baltimore and Tampa this year. Fair points. But it’s not the time to give up yet.
Come back tomorrow for Angry Ward, who gave up in seventh grade. Follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.