While it has been a relatively disappointing season so far for the New York Yankees, their hunt for October baseball is still alive and well. There are several reasons to remain optimistic. The Yankees have not been the dominant force in the American League that many expected this year after several successful recent seasons, but New York is anything but out of contention. The team is still in the race and looks ready to make a big postseason push in the second half of the season.
American League Standings
The Yankees may not have won as many games at the halfway mark as they were hoping to, but they are still four games over the .500 mark. That is good enough for the eighth-best record in the American League. With 70 games still remaining on their schedule, the club are is games out of the lead in the American League East and only four games out of a wild card spot. They have plenty of time remaining to close this gap, and with the talent on their roster, it is absolutely possible.
When being compared to the rest of the American League, the Yankees are right in the mix of things statistically. They are actually one of only seven teams in the AL with a positive run differential. Ironically, one of the teams they currently trail in the standings, the Seattle Mariners, has a terrible negative 51 run differential. This demonstrates that the Yankees are among the teams competing for a postseason appearance.
Pitching is a Strength
Even with the recent struggles of Gerrit Cole and Aroldis Chapman, as well as all of the injuries suffered by the pitching staff, the pitching of the Yankees has still been a major strength of the team. They are still one of the best pitching teams in the American League and have the numbers to back it up. The club currently ranks fifth in the AL in earned run average with 3.78 and second in the AL with a 1.17 WHIP. They have pitched the most shutouts in the AL this season with 10 and have recorded the fifth-most strikeouts with 867 total. Their .226 opponent batting average is the third-best in the AL.
It has somewhat quietly still been a very good season for the Yankees pitchers, and there are good reasons to believe that they could improve even further. Chapman will likely figure out his struggles at some point, especially given his long history of sustained success, and Cole has already begun trending back in the right direction after his own slump. Zack Britton, one of the best relief pitchers on the roster, just recently returned from an injury. He will provide a nice boost to the bullpen once he gets back into his full rhythm again.
The other important thing to remember is that the Yankees may be getting back two big parts of their rotation at some point this summer. Starters Luis Severino and Corey Kluber are slowly working their way back from injury and could provide a major upgrade if everything goes as planned. Additionally, the Yankees could also acquire another starting pitcher at the trade deadline. Pitching reinforcements could be on the way soon.
It is no secret that the Yankees offense has struggled greatly through the first half of this season, especially for their own standards. On the positive side, they have been improving offensively over the last several weeks. In the month of July, the Bronx Bombers scored 53 runs in 12 games, good enough for a solid 4.42 runs per game average. While still not exactly great, it is an improvement from their season average of 4.15 runs per game. With all of the talented sluggers on this roster, it is fair to believe that they could go on a scorching hot streak at any time.
One player to keep an eye on moving forward is Gleyber Torres. He has struggled to find his power swing over the last two seasons, but he just might be waking up finally. It is a very small sample, but he has just homered in back-to-back games for the first time all season, including hitting his first home run since June 5th. This is mind-boggling for a hitter as good as Torres, but maybe he has now turned the corner. If he can get back to the 2019 version of himself it would be a huge boost to the Yankees offense.
The biggest and most glaring need for the Yankees is a center fielder. Ever since losing Aaron Hicks to injury, they have not had an answer at this important position. This is where the front office could really make a move at the trade deadline to improve the outfield situation. There are several solid and intriguing options, and the club would be wise to make a bold move if they want to greatly improve their chances at a postseason run.
Through 12 games in July, the Yankees have a 7-5 record. More importantly, they have won their last three consecutive series, and all of them have been against teams they are trailing in the American League standings: the Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, and Seattle Mariners. The Yankees’ schedule provides an excellent opportunity to make up ground on the teams they need to catch. After a two-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Yankees get to play four more games against the Red Sox and three versus the Tampa Bay Rays before concluding July with the Miami Marlins.
It is definitely not an easy one, but the schedule for the Yankees is favorable in the sense that they will control their own destiny in a way. They get a ton of games against the teams they need to catch. If they can win the large majority of those games, then they are definitely going to give themselves a real shot to make it to the postseason. All things considered, between trending in the right direction and possible reinforcements on the way, the hunt for October is just getting started for the Yankees. In fact, according to the Draft Kings Sportsbook, the Yankees are only a very slight underdog to make the postseason at +110 odds.
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