Seven regular season games remain. Three at home with the Baltimore Orioles, then four on the road with the Texas Rangers. Seven very winnable games for a New York team getting hot again at the right time.
Even better is that if certain chips fall into place, the Yankees and Blue Jays may face off in the playoffs. That means playing in a rowdy Rogers Centre in October, deep in the belly of the beast that is Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s house.
In this dry run, New York did exactly what it had to do in taking two of three: Prove it could win important games on the road.
The AL East is clinched, but now what? Now that the division is taken care of, manager Aaron Boone needs to start thinking about the playoffs. Specifically, his bullpen strategy needs to be strong. He also should be figuring out how to get super-utilityman Oswaldo Cabrera regular at-bats.
So what does that mean for the next seven games? The Yankees certainly won’t lie down for Baltimore or Texas, but Boone probably won’t play all of his starters at once. This will be more about seeing which fringe relievers, particularly Aroldis Chapman, have their best pitches working. On the hitting side, it will just be about keeping the whole team focused and taking clean swings.
It’s Trivino Time. Whatever Boone’s playoff bullpen strategy, Lou Trivino needs to be a big part of it. Hell, he might even need to be the closer. The veteran righty has a 1.74 ERA since arriving from Oakland at the trade deadline. His 6.47 mark with the A’s is all but a distant memory thanks to throwing his slider more often.
He got the save in Tuesday’s division-clinching win, including inducing a key double play on his first pitch. Trivino is exactly the pitcher New York needs in the playoffs. Expect him to get some high-leverage outs down the stretch, and maybe some more save opportunities, too.
Finishing strong = A deep playoff run. All of us have watched enough sports in our lifetimes to know it’s rarely ever the best team on paper that wins. Rather, it’s the hottest team who rides the momentum wave all the way to championship glory. With seven fairly soft games to close out the season, this is a chance on which the Bronx Bombers must pounce.
Consider this. New York ends the regular season in Texas on Oct. 5 and Game 1 of the ALDS isn’t until Oct. 11. That’s a long layoff even if the Yankees win all of their remaining games. Regardless of the result, this final handful of games needs to be about keeping the team’s foot on the gas and not straying from the end goal:
Bringing home No. 28.
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