The 2018 New York Yankees’ year will be considered a failure if they fail to get past the Oakland A’s and Boston Red Sox this postseason.
Roughly one year ago today the New York Yankees sat in a position they had missed out on the year prior. It was days before the American League Wild Card game yet the lineup and starting pitchers were all locked in place.
Fast forward a year to now and these 98-win Yankees have more question marks than the 91-win Yankees from 2017. Could you ever imagine a more inconsistent 98-win team than this year’s Bronx Bombers?
The answer to that question is a mere no.
Who should the #yankees start in the Wild Card game?
— David Cone (@dcone36) September 27, 2018
The fact there has been a debate of who the Yankees’ starting Wild Card game pitcher should show you everything you need to know. Last season it was Luis Severino. He struggled, however, and has in the second half of this season as well, so the reason for the lack of confidence is expected.
Masahiro Tanaka, who before his last two starts was brilliant in the second half of this year, has virtually ruined his chances of starting in his second WC game with his latest meltdown on Wednesday night.
J.A. Happ is the clear-cut favorite. Since coming over the southpaw is 8-2 with a 2.34 ERA and opponents have hit .221 against him. He is the type of pitcher who also fits the Yankees’ formula perfectly. Happ usually will set himself up for a 5-inning type of game. He pitches aggressively with his fastball but sometimes that can make for more hits and fewer strikeouts.
Nonetheless, the Yankees bullpen is made for a Happ-esq performance. Following Happ would be a combination of Green/Roberston, Britton, Betances, and Chapman. And in a one-game win or go home scenario, a bullpen game is advantage Yankees.
Clearly, there are concerns surrounding this team heading into their one-game playoff. And when you have vastly improved your roster from a year ago on both sides of the baseball, getting to within one game of a World Series again is mandatory.
If they weren’t to get past the ALDS than frankly, this season is a total bust.
For one, let’s take a look at the 2017 Wild Card game lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- RF Aaron Judge
- C Gary Sanchez
- SS Didi Gregorius
- 2B Starlin Castro
- 1B Greg Bird
- CF Aaron Hicks
- DH Jacoby Ellsbury
- 3B Todd Frazier
Yes Jacoby Ellsbury, remember him?
Now a look at the projected 2018 Wild Card game lineup:
- LF Andrew McCutchen
- RF Aaron Judge
- CF Aaron Hicks
- DH Giancarlo Stanton
- SS Didi Gregorius (depending on the status of his wrist)
- 1B Luke Voit
- 3B Miguel Andujar
- C Gary Sanchez
- 2B Gleyber Torres
While you may notice five new names, those five guys have also been the reason the Yankees are a few wins away from 100, nine more than their 2017 watermark.
Yankees Rookies, 25+ HR & 90+ RBI
Joe DiMaggio 1936 29/125
Joe Gordon 1938 25/97
Aaron Judge 2017 52/114
Miguel Andujar 2018 27/90
— James Smyth (@JamesSmyth621) September 27, 2018
McCutchen has been an on-base machine. Stanton has gotten his numbers with his 37 homers, 97 RBI, and the .260 batting average. Miguel Andujar can just about be considered Rookie of the Year with his 74 extra base hits, while Luke Voit has had an impact that even has made Aaron Judge recognize.
Via Brendan Kuty of NJ.com, Judge had this to say of Voit:
“I told him that, ‘We wouldn’t be in this position right now if it wasn’t for you.” “You coming over here, I know it was a slow start, but you picked it up and you picked us up and when we needed the big hit, you came through for us.”
Voit has been a man on a mission. His slash line is .314/.385/.620 since coming to New York and has made “The Birdman of New York” an afterthought.
The point being is the production, power, and improved bullpen along with the starting pitching staff make this team more lethal than 2017. There is no reason why this team can’t win a one-game playoff with the roster that has been assembled by Mr. Cashman.
Simply put, if this team were to be eliminated at any point before the World Series it would have to consider a disappointment. Getting to the ALCS may seem enough to call 2018 a success but don’t be surprised if the rest of our fellow media outlets in New York think differently.
What is obvious is the dip in team batting average for 2018 Yanks compared to the 2017 roster. Last season they hit a team batting average of .262 in contrast to this year’s .248. You have to expect that when you compile all the right-handed power into one lineup.
But, as aforementioned, their power numbers are significantly higher with their team-high 260 home runs.
Yes, there is a rookie manager. Yes, they are younger, inexperienced pieces on the roster. Yes, they have been in a division with one of the best team in Boston Red Sox history. But, what is also a fact is that this team is going to be almost 10 wins better than a season before — and has additionally gone through a medium-sized roster transformation.
Management, coaches, and players know there is pressure. They may not have as much pressure on them as a team like the Red Sox, but there’s enough to make them worrisome of an early series exit.
Regardless of everything, the New York Yankees’ season gets a new beginning starting next Wednesday. Every team in baseball is now 0-0 with one goal in place.
Do the Yankees need to make the World Series? It’s quite possible that Steinbrenner and co. believe that they should.
With all the improvements this roster has had, a deep run in the 2018 postseason is imminent. Anything else, should and will be considered a failure