The New York Yankees are currently two games up on the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East division race. Coincidentally, they’re only two games above .500 since the start of July. During that time, the O’s and Tampa Bay Rays have gained serious ground and have made the month of a September an uncomfortable one for the Bombers and their fans.We here at YGY took a look at the schedule earlier this year and predicted how the Yankees would do. At the time (July 19), the Yankees were up 10 games on the O’s and held a 17-13 mark against the division. Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote in that article (feel free to laugh at my expense):
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.
My, my how wrong I was. *Ahem* Moving on, nothing to see here.
A quick look at the Yankees record against the AL East’s second place and third place teams (coming into Sept. 3) reveals the Yankees have a losing record against them when combined. They are playing .500 ball against the Orioles, but are losing in the run differential department 69-59. Meanwhile, they have a losing record against the Rays (5-7), but a +2 run differential, which shows that their remaining games against them should regress toward the mean.
As a team, the Yankees are 26-23 against division foes this season, with eight of those wins (and +23 run differential) against the Boston Red Sox. They haven’t exactly blown the doors off the Toronto Blue Jays either with a 6-5 record (and +7 run differential) against them.
As scary as that might seem, are the Yankees in trouble? Taking a gander around the league, we stop in Texas and have a look-see into the Rangers divisional record. Surprisingly, despite having the best record in the AL, they are playing .500 ball against the AL West. Against the Oakland A’s they’re 6-6, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 6-7, and Seattle Mariners 7-6. However, they are -14 in the run differential department. In the playoffs, you see more 3-2 games, than 10-2 games, so that doesn’t bode well for them on the surface.
So what does this mean for the Yankees? They need to get healthy again, plain and simple. The ineffectiveness of the pitching staff – particularly the bullpen – has the Yankees on their heels and losing a large division lead. Alex Rodriguez is on his way back and might be in the lineup against the Tampa Bay Rays this afternoon, which at the very least will provide a small boost. Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte pitched off the mound for the first time since fracturing his ankle in June, so he should be back in pinstripes in a few weeks. Finally, Mark Teixeira should be back in another week after suffering a Grade I calf strain. Reinforcements are definitely on the way, but hopefully they won’t be too late because the Orioles are looking very dangerous right now.
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference