The New York Yankees are officially over the .500 mark, but what must they do now to climb up the standings into contention for postseason play?
Upon their homecoming after a turbulent road trip they have scored 6.4 runs per game and have slugged their way back into being a relative ball club here in mid-June. While most of the questions surrounding this ballclub are about buying or selling at the trade deadline, this team is making the case to eventually compete for the top spot in the American League East.
By no means do we mean that the Bombers are going to spark into World Series contention because let’s face it, they haven’t beaten on overwhelming opponents. They own a 10-17 record against AL East foes including a 12-19 record against teams over the .500 mark so Vegas odds should remain the same (30-1).
Plus, their current five-game winning streak is highlighted by a four-game sweep of the lowly Los Angeles Angels who have given up the fourth-most home runs in the league (82).
As we near the All-Star break and creep towards the trade deadline, New York will only play three teams (not including Detroit) that are over the .500 mark which are the Texas Rangers (36-22), Chicago White Sox (31-30) and the Cleveland Indians (32-25).
Other opponents? The Colorado Rockies (28-33), Minnesota Twins (18-42) and the San Diego Pardes (26-36) twice to total a .479 winning percentage.
“[Poor competition] does not cross my mind,” manager Joe Girardi said via the NY Post. “To me, I take it a day at a time. If you don’t put good at-bats [together] and you don’t play good defense, and your pitchers don’t make the pitches, it doesn’t really matter who you are playing.”
So yes, their schedule is fairly favorable for the New York Yankees to continue their surge but it’s not like this team hasn’t been demonstrating key components of a winning ballclub, either.
In the last seven games, Carlos Beltran owns a .417/.462/.875 slash line with three home runs and an OPS of 1.337 featuring a red-hot Jacoby Ellsbury who has hit .343 this month with an on-base percentage of .400.
The Yankees have scored at least five runs in five of their last seven games and own a 25-4 record when they score four or more runs in a contest.
Their overall pitching ERA here in June is the sixth-best in the American League and their offense has scored the third most runs (52) thanks to owning the second-best batting average (.305).
Yes, this comes against favorable opponents but it’s not like wins over bad teams are not calculated into the standings nor are they thrown in as “half-wins.”
“I think you have to play yourself into contention.” Girardi told Newsday “and I said Tuesday night that this is a really important month. You can’t just keep saying, ‘Well, we have next month. So I think this is a real important month for us and as we move forward to get back into contention, to climb in the division and make up some ground.”
Also, consider the fact that the winning percentage of the teams they face after the tradeline climbs to a respectable .546 with games against the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, and San Francisco Giants so the true test may come then.
Regardless, if the Yankees want to even smell October baseball for only the second time in the last four years, their season must be preserved during this upcoming stretch of weaker opponents.