I know, I know, we shouldn’t be looking ahead to August and September. We haven’t even gotten to the non-waiver trade deadline yet! That won’t stop Yanks Go Yard from identifying some key series in the future. Before we get into that, let’s see where the Bombers are today. Currently, they are ten games up on the second-place Baltimore Orioles. That is astonishing considering how tight the division was not even a month ago. What’s even more amazing is the fact that the Yankees have increased their lead without arguably their two best starting pitchers for the past two weeks. Now, let’s dive into how they are faring against their division rivals and how their September schedule – which features a whole month playing mostly teams within the AL East – will affect their playoff run.
Overall, the Yankees are 17-13 within the division. Their toughest foe thus far has been the Tampa Bay Rays who hold the only winning record (7-5) against the Yankees within the division. However, the one saving grace is that in those twelve games; Tampa Bay has only a +2 run differential, so it’s only a matter of cashing in. Three of those losses came in the opening series when the runners-in-scoring-position issue was beginning. Luckily, there are only six more games between the clubs with each team hosting the other for a series. If the Yankees continue to distance themselves from the pack as they are now, these games will be much more important to the Rays in hopes of securing one of the two wild card spots.
Surprisingly, the Orioles are still in it, although they are fading. They will take on the Yankees ten more times before the season’s conclusion. The Bombers hold a 5-3 advantage over the O’s in head-to-head matchups, but the Yankees have scored three fewer runs in those eight games. Furthermore, Baltimore has a -57 (!) run differential on the season. According to the a stat called the Pythagorean winning percentage, which helps determine if a team is lucky or not in regards to their scoring differential, the O’s should be a 39-win club, not a 46-win one. One can deduce that they will see a drop-off soon and the Yankees could be the beneficiary.
After finishing the sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday, the Yankees hold a 3-2 record against their division rivals to the north. They will play the Blue Jays 13 more times (don’t you love unbalanced scheduling?). With their ace, Ricky Romero, not pitching like an ace and their best hitter out with a bum wrist, this team is set for a decline. They are 12.5 games out and are still in the hunt for the wild card, but their chances are diminishing pretty quickly. In less than a month, they went from 5.5 games out of first place to 12.5 games. In fact, in June they held a 13-14 record, but have turned in a paltry 5-9 record in July so far. While it’s tough to predict how teams will play each other in September, the Blue Jays are another candidate primed for a decline.
I purposely saved the best for last, the Boston Red Sox. The team hasn’t recovered from their collapse last September and are now wondering why they hired the worst manager to try and fix it. The Sox are currently 10.5 games back and are only 1-5 against the Yanks this season. Not only that, but they’ve been outscored 49-32 in those games. To put that in perspective for you, the Yankees are scoring almost eight runs a game against their hated rivals. The teams will play 12 more games, with the Yankees playing host to the Red Sox nine times. Although I believe the Red Sox will get better and make a run at the Wild Card, their pitching has been atrocious. A healthy Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Dustin Pedroia can’t help that. I do think the Red Sox will tighten the season series, but the Yankees will probably (hopefully) be resting players for the last three games.
So how do I predict the Yankees will do against their division rivals the rest of the way? At worst they’ll end up with a .500 record in the 41 games they have against AL East competition. Honestly, that’s all they really need as long as they take care of business against clubs from the other two divisions. Obviously, they’ll be shooting for home-field advantage, so the games will matter for positioning reasons, but I foresee them taking their foot off the gas in mid-September and coasting to a nice 95+ win season. Whether they can stay in front of the Texas Rangers is worthy of a whole other post.
Where do you see the Yankees finishing in the standings? Throw out a win-loss record while you’re at it!