The New York Yankees may have kept their contending hopes alive with a win on Sunday, but it doesn’t get any easier for the Bombers.
“It’s got to turn around tomorrow,” manager Joe Girardi told NJ Media on Saturday. “This is probably as important a game as we’ve had in July in a long time.”
Thanks to a dazzling start by Masahiro Tanaka accompanied by a shut-down performance by “No-Runs DMC,” New York was able to salvage the final game of the three-game set against the Sox in a “playoff” mindset.
But after establishing the weekend series and a tough 10-game homestand with two losses against their arch rivals, the Yankees (45-46) hypothetically must win six of the next seven games in order to call this season salvageable as well.
If the opposite happens and New York loses the next two series against the Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants, it would put them least four games beneath .500 with one week to go before the trade deadline.
Sure, the teams current circumstance may be a little bitter but what’s even tougher would be the road that lies ahead.
Before we examine matchups, understand just how challenging this road to relevancy is going to be for the 27-time World Champions. They are 8.5 games out of the American League East and 5.5 games out of a Wild Card spot and have to leap over six teams just to play in a one-game playoff.
The odds that the Yankees reach the American League Division series currently sit at 2.7%, according to Baseball Prospectus.
If they have any chance at contending, something the boys upstairs yearn to do, they must take care of business but its way easier said than done as New York owns one of the most puzzling remaining schedules in baseball.
Not only are 55 of the remaining games played versus winning teams – the Yankees own an abysmal 25-32 record against teams over .500 – but according to the Wall Street Journal the Yankees’ opponents for the remainder of the baseball season own a combined winning percentage of .525.
That is the second-hardest schedule that remains from now until October, only lingering behind the Oakland Athletics who face the toughest schedule ahead (.527).
A schedule of this dimension could create a problematic situation for a team struggling to score runs and put up a quality start almost insurmountable especially when you consider the fact that general manager Brian Cashman wishes to sell his assets come August 1.
His wishes may come true as the Athletics, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels, and Tampa Bay Rays are the exclusive teams the Yankees have beaten more than three times this season. They also happen to be the only other teams in the AL with a losing record.
Sure they face the Rays during this stretch but it may be too late by then as that three-game set begins right ahead this year’s August 1 trade deadline, a day where we can pay witness to a fire sale in Yankee land.
That may not sound exhilarating to any fan and we apprehend that it goes against blind-minded owner Hal Steinbrenner and the team’s stubborn president Randy Levine’s plans but they must realize that selling is what’s best for this organization.
Chapman was pumping triple-digit fastballs at 103-MPH with ease in last night’s win over Boston and has 40 strikeouts compared to seven walks to coincide with a 2.30 earned run average.
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The 39-year old Beltran is fresh off his ninth All-Star selection and owns 19 home runs to supplement a solid .297/.334/.542 slash line. This is an arm and a bat that should intrigue every contender in need of an extra push at for a title.
It comes down to, again, the next few weeks. The old saying goes: “you can’t predict baseball!” and the if the Yankees somehow take six of the next seven games against the Orioles and Giants, it might be enough for the organization to consider an attempt at contention.
Should it be? Probably not. This organization hasn’t seen .500 ball at the break since 1995 and it’s pretty obvious that this team 21 years later is just flat out mediocre but there’s just too much speculation over the whole contending or selling debate.
Let’s just stick to facts. The rest of this homestand will still dictate what the future holds not only for some members in the clubhouse but for the organization as a whole.
We only have two weeks of speculation to go before the course of action is taken. It’s obvious that perhaps a “for sale” sign is a reliable option and notwithstanding the fact that the Yankees have not had a losing second-half in 23-years, there’s too much ground to make up in too little time against too good of teams.
They are still alive, but they’re barely breathing and the knife may soon be dug too deep to cure the wound.