Houston Astros
Robby Sabo, ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Houston, we have a problem! The problem is that the Houston Astros might just be making playoff hopes impossible for the New York Yankees.

To say this baseball season has been a peculiar one would be an absolute understatement.

The New York Yankees have played off their successful 2017 campaign and are having a stellar season in terms of their record and yet, they aren’t even in the AL East title conversation. The Boston Red Sox are having a historically impressive year while the Minnesota Twins are having a historically tragic year after their magical 2017 run.

And what about the Atlanta Braves, a team chock full of rookies, cruising in their division? Or the Arizona Diamondbacks coming out of nowhere to hang around with the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West?

With all that being said, the Houston Astros, defending World Series champs, should be dominating their division. They should be primed to protect their coveted World Series title.

And yet, that’s not the case.

The beautiful thing about baseball is that any team can win on any given day. Well, lately the Oakland A’s seem to be taking advantage while the injury-riddled Astros are fading fast.

So what does this all have to do with the Yankees? The Yankees are currently perched at the top of the Wild Card race, set to host the AL Wild Card game on Oct. 3. Right now, they are lined up to face the A’s in their home ballpark. Yet if the Astros keep slipping, they could find themselves in the Bronx for a one-game showdown.

And that, my friends, is how the New York Yankees’ impressive season could very well end.

There’s no saying that the Yankees couldn’t lose to the Oakland A’s. With the one-game format, one bad game could cost the team all they’ve worked for during the regular season. However, the prospect of facing a fully healthy Astros lineup with their Kryptonite Justin Verlander on the mound spells disaster for the Bombers, especially in their recent state.

At this rate, the division title is definitely a long shot for the Yankees. With Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez missing significant time, the offense is lifeless. Luis Severino, their undisputed ace, isn’t looking much like an ace these days. And besides the fact that the Red Sox are putting up historic numbers, the Yankees also cannot find a solution to sub-.500 teams, especially those in the AL East.

The cards are not aligned for the division but the Yankees like their chances against the Oakland A’s in a one-game playoff in the Bronx. A do-or-die against the opponents who knocked them out of the playoffs last season? Not so much.

But this is the perfect opportunity for the Houston Astros to knock the Yankees out early and not have to deal with them further down the line in the playoffs. The Yankees gave them a challenge last year, stretching the series to a full seven games before the Astros finally broke through. If the Astros continue their slide into obscurity, the Wild Card game could look similar to 2015.

The Astros performing poorly could be the Yankees’ worst nightmare. While the Yankees own a winning record against the defending champs this season (5-2), Verlander has been a puzzle they’ve been unable to solve. This season alone, he is 1-0 in two starts with a 0.61 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 14.2 innings pitched. In the postseason, he’s a more filthy opponent, going 2-0 against the Bombers while only allowing one run.

Justin Verlander
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

In reality, the Astros would likely be the favorite in a Wild Card, regardless of where the game is held. Right now, they are limping towards the finish line and the Oakland A’s are breathing right down their necks. The Yankees have not clue what opponent they could face and that question now looms larger with the miraculous fall of Houston and the surge of Oakland.

Let’s face it. The Yankees do not want to be in the one-game playoff. However, with the Red Sox doing their thing, their one shot to make the playoffs is to snag the Wild Card. Then they’ll have to win just one game to keep moving forward.

Everyone entered the season believing that the Houston Astros would clean up easily. It was already assumed that they would be a top seed in the playoffs and the team to beat. As of August 16, that is not the case.

The Astros are in the process of becoming the biggest troll in the game of baseball, even bigger than our good friend Astros Rants. They could easily make a mockery of the New York Yankees’ season even by losing their hold on the division title.

There’s still plenty of season left so the Wild Card is all up in the air. However, if the Astros continue this slide, they are setting the Yankees up for a short October.

Allison is just a girl with an enormous passion for the game of baseball and the written word. Based in Upstate New York, her life-long relationship with the New York Yankees is something that she developed through close relationships with her mother and grandfather. An aspiring sports writer, she graduated with a journalism degree and is finding places to share her excitement about the sporting world and how it affects us all.