The New York Yankees own a three-game win streak during the most important time boosting the possibility of preserving their dismal year.
Entering this week, the New York Yankees faced an uphill battle that would ultimately decide their destiny.
Facing the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, and San Francisco Giants (combined .588 win %) to kick off the second half, the then .500 Yankees were obligated to beat some of the best in baseball in order to salvage their season.
After dropping the first two games against Boston they had slipped to nine games out of the division and five and a half out of the second Wild Card spot.
Now, New York has taken three in a row, including two against the American League East-leading Orioles, and they’re playing some tremendous baseball during the most critical of stretches.
Overall, led by superb starting pitching, the Bombers have permitted one run or fewer in three straight games, relievers currently own a 25.2 scoreless inning streak, and the offense is hitting from top to bottom.
As a result, they have narrowed the deficit in the standings and now sit only 6.5 games out of the AL East and five out of the second Wild Card spot. The teams that separate the Yankees and a playoff spot have also declined from six to three.
Additionally, the Yankees have improved their record to 47-46 to give them their first winning record since June 25 when they prevailed over the appalling Minnesota Twins.
Most importantly, though, the team as a whole realizes that they might have something special going on.
“The feeling in this clubhouse right now is really good,” yesterday’s hero, Anthony Swarzak, told Newsday. “Nobody in this room believes we can’t do it.”
Sure, this is grand and all, but don’t be fooled. The 2016 New York Yankees have been on a rollercoaster in regards to their winning streaks all year.
When New York took six in a row from May 18 to May 24, they pulled their record to an even 22-22 but ended up losing seven of their next ten to fall four games under.
Then, from June 5 to June 10 they won five straight to make themselves a winning team at 31-30 but responded with a four-game losing skid to continue the seasaw with the .500 mark.
Including today, the Yankees have only been a winning ballclub for seven days. Seven. Their tendencies as a team since the season started on April 5 has not matched the characterization of a team ready to make a playoff push by any means.
However, the winning streak is not all that corrupt. What fans should be right now is cautiously optimistic.
After all, the Yankees have taken a four-game series against the defending world champion Royals and the central-leading Cleveland Indians. They have further shown that they can play with the AL’s best Texas Rangers, and have proven they could beat the best in their division.
The only way New York should able to convince you that they are legit, is to establish this small hot streak over a period of time, which appears unlikely.
The probability that the AL East ends with the Yankees on top sits at 1.1% while their chances of winning a Wild Card spot sits at 7.1%, according to MLB.com.
Following this series, they have to welcome in Madison Bumgarner and the Giants while their remaining schedule features nine games against the Orioles, 10 against the Blue Jays and 13 against the Red Sox. As much of an opportunity that sounds like, it’s just as big of a hurdle.
As much of an opportunity that sounds like, it’s just as big of a hurdle as the Yankees’ record against divisional opponents is currently 13-9.
That is why the team has already discussed the possibility of dealing their biggest assets that have little to no value beyond 2016.
Sure Aroldis Chapman is one of the three guys that make up the strength of this team but they could trade the flamethrowing lefty and then have a genuine chance of bringing him back to the Bronx as a free agent in 2017.
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Let’s not forget that Chapman is one of the best relievers in baseball and is worth a top prospect or two from a real contender that desires an elite closer for a playoff run.
Sure Carlos Beltran is sharing the team’s most valuable player award with Didi Gregorius but Beltran is also worth top notch prospects to teams in “win now” mode like perhaps his former Kansas City Royals team.
The organization has made Andrew Miller a long shot and is basically listening in on any other offers but the bottom line is that this hot streak does not take away the fact that New York must get deep, young talent throughout the organization.
Once that happens, the wrath of one of the richest teams in baseball can be felt once the rotten contracts come off the books and the young acquired talent is joined by a historic free agent class.
If this franchise is going to have any notable run at a World Series title – maybe even a dynasty – they have to realize that getting younger and supplementing their talents with that of future free agents will make that happpen.
Entering the second half of the season and even now, this is not only a legitimate course of action, it’s the right one. Which is why every win somewhat feels like a defeat.
As great as this streak is, unless it translates to sustained success en route to one of the biggest turnarounds in franchise history, it’s nothing more than fool’s gold.