The New York Yankees are flirting with an improbable run at the postseason but there is a major obstruction that can turn them into pretenders.
Manageable and close, yet unlikely.
Those are the three words that best describe the 2016 New York Yankees‘ playoff hopes. Which, if you talk to the person you were back on the trade deadline, you’d call yourself crazy because this team was not even supposed to smell playoffs this year.
Prior to the fire sale of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Carlos Beltran, New York found themselves even at .500 but thanks to the “Baby Bombers,” they have ignited to an unexpected extent.
Since waving the white flag, the Yankees are the fifth-best team in the American league and have scored the second most runs sitting just one run behind the Boston Red Sox.
With that, the Bombers are suddenly just 3.5 games out of a playoff spot with September right around the corner. However, MLB.com has their chance at clinching at just 3.7%.
Why? Thanks to the inhumane performances by Gary Sanchez, the offense has been among the best in the league and this Yankees’ team can dance with anyone in the postseason race.
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That doesn’t answer the question of why are the playoffs so far-fetched despite stellar play since August 1. Point to the fellas that take the mound.
Since the All-Star break, even though the starting pitching sits in the middle of the pack among major league teams in terms of earned run average, the relief has been thoroughly unreliable since their offense has picked up the pace.
In yesterday’s 8-5 loss to the defending champion Kansas City Royals, manager Joe Girardi went to Blake Parker in the seventh to try and hold the Royals at five and he imploded.
Parker surrendered three earned runs on three hits in just .1 innings of work as the Yankees ended up losing a critical game in regards to the Wild Card hunt.
That is just one of the many instances (remember Anthony Swarzak?) where the ‘pen, which was once a strength, has failed to come up with a stop in a critical portion of the game.
It has come down to the point where unproven hurlers like Parker and Tommy Layne are attempting to get significant outs in a two or one-run game. It has become especially problematic when the “Young Guns” in Luis Cessa and Chad Green hopped into the starting rotation.
As nasty and phenomenal as Dellin Betances is, Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren are the arms trying to finish the bridge to their 6’8″ closer. Clippard has impressed thus far but Warren has an ERA of 13.50 since August 16, which is clearly a problem.
However, bullpen depth hasn’t just started to be a predicament.
The injuries suffered by Nick Rumbelow, Bryan Mitchell, and Branden Pinder has depleted the bullpen all year, it was just that “No-Runs DMC” made up for it with their utter dominance.
Thanks to their injuries, the depleted depth and the sale, the lack of talent is sticking out like a sore thumb as the Yankees find themselves falling in the race for the second Wild Card spot.
For now, a thin bullpen during the home stretch brings an explanation to their slim chance of coming within 12 games of winning the World Series. But is it about now?
Just like on the day of the deadline, general manager Biran Cashman waved goodbye to 2016 and set his sights to 2017 and beyond. It’s a great story if the kids can come up and win, but to give guys like Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin and more some major league experience is priority number one.
Having that experience in a playoff hunt is even better.
That being said, what Cashman is seeing from his bullpen not only makes a legitimate run seem impossible but it makes it convincing that the Yankees will go out and bring along a forceful reliever this offseason.
Chapman becomes a free agent, should they go ahead and bring him back to the Bronx? One thing’s for sure, this ‘pen would look a lot different with his name or a name of an equal value in the unit.
If the sight is set on winning come next season, the relief has to actually provide relief. Not tear down the bridge on a nightly basis.