New York Yankees: Biggest Rival Down the Stretch is the Man in the Mirror 1
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 09: Starlin Castro #14 of the New York Yankees leaps with Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees as they celebrate the win over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 9, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard W. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Want to know who the New York Yankees must look out for during this playoff hunt? Their enemy is closer than they think.

With the 2017 regular season for Major League Baseball drawing to a close, the postseason is on everybody’s mind. The October buzz has taken over the Bronx with the New York Yankees in a solid position to take a Wild Card spot or, less likely, win the American League East.

Fans and media alike are speculating on who the Bronx Bombers could be facing in a potential Wild Card matchup or even the ALDS should they knock off the Boston Red Sox.

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Could it be one against the Kansas City Royals and then onto Houston? Or could it be a game with the Twins followed by a trip to Cleveland to take on the red-hot (W)Indians? Maybe they successfully avoid the dreaded Wild Card game altogether?

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Not one of those teams, however, is the one Yankees fans must worry about. That team that can keep them from going to October is the Yankees themselves.

It’s safe to say that 2017 has been a pleasant surprise of a season for the team. They entered the season with minimal expectations and getting the chance to see some young talent make their marks. But after some breakout and All-Star caliber seasons mixed in with a few blockbuster trades, the Yankees find themselves right in the thick of the pennant race.

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There are truly some nights where the Yankees look like they could be one of, if not the best, in the American League. This is the Yankees’ “A-Team.”

But then, on other nights, another team shows up…one that looks lost at the plate and can’t buy a strike when on the mound. This is that team the fans need to worry about. This is the Yankees “B Team” in a Jekyll and Hyde universe.

Look at the Yankees’ last ten games. They went 7-3 in that stretch and managed to look either really good or really bad in every single one of them.

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A 9-2 victory over the Red Sox on Sunday Night Baseball, a 9-1 blowout over the Baltimore Orioles and a 16-7 win over the Texas Rangers all look amazing on paper. However, failing to get more than one run against Doug Fister, getting walked off against in Baltimore or blowing a 5-1 lead to Texas all in the same series as their big wins really hurt the team’s momentum and ability to move forward.

The ten games before that showed a lot about the team as well.

In a big series against Cleveland the weekend of Aug. 28, the Yankees really needed that “A-Team” to show up and gain ground on the Red Sox. But the “B-Team” reared its ugly head. They were swept and outscored 17-7 in three games.

If the Yankees want to be a legitimate threat in the AL, they need to be more competitive with the elite teams in the league. They can’t settle with beating up on Boston yet looking like a Triple-A team against the Indians or Astros.

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The Yankees need to get over this hump. They need to stop being the team that takes two steps forward only to take two steps back just a few days later.

Obviously, they aren’t going to win every game and, obviously, they aren’t going to put 16 runs on the board every night. But they need to look competitive in every game, they need to look like they belong. And hey, when the “A-Team” shows up, they do. But when that “B-Team” takes the field, it sets all the momentum backward.

The Yankees have roughly two weeks to sort this out and figure out how to overcome themselves. Can they do it? Yes. Will they? Well, that’s up to them.

If they can, expect a nice run and fun October for the Bombers. But if they can’t, don’t think you’ll be seeing much of the pinstripes beyond Oct. 3.

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Zack is a former sports editor for his high school newspaper, The Roxbury Review, and a former contributing writer for his former college newspaper, The Youngtown Edition. His focus is baseball, more specifically, the New York Yankees. Other sports he has interest in are basketball and football. Zack currently attends Centenary University.