The All-Star Game was a terrific homage to Derek Jeter and his Hall of Fame career. Jeter was the talk of the town and if you listened to the Fox announcers for the game last night, you might not realize that there were actually other players on the field and that Jeter didn’t play after the fourth inning. Jeter was honored with multiple standing ovations, before his first at-bat and when he was replaced by Alexei Ramirez. Adam Wainwright evened claimed that he “grooved” a fastball that Jeter hit for a double.
But the pageantry of the All-Star Game is complete. Now it is time for the Yankees to get to work on giving their captain the true send off into retirement that he deserves: one last ride through the Canyon of Heroes. Jorge Posada left it all out on the field, hitting .429 in a losing effort against the Tigers in the 2011 ALDS. Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte didn’t even make it to the postseason in their final year last season. In Derek Jeter’s entire 20-year career, he has played only one game in which the Bombers were mathematically eliminated from the postseason. No player more exemplifies October baseball than Mr. November. The end of Jeter’s career must be in the postseason.
Getting to the postseason for the Yankees will be an uphill battle, but certainly not impossible. They have a somewhat favorable schedule in the second half, with a major league-high 40 home games remaining. Of course, since they had a losing record at Yankee Stadium in the first half, that may not be a good thing. They also have a light travel schedule with no trips to the West Coast in the second half. They can also control their own destiny with several games left against their AL East foes.
The biggest key for the second half push to the postseason, will be the state of the rotation and whether or not the lineup can score runs. The rotation entering the second half bears little resemblance to the one the Yankees began the season with. CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka are all sidelined due to injury and none can be counted on to produce again this season. The current rotation of Hiroki Kuroda, Brandon McCarthy, David Phelps, Shane Greene and Chase Whitley will need to carry the team through the dog days of summer.
Whatever miracles the replacement rotation can muster will be for naught, however, if the Yankees continue to be able to only provide a few runs per night. The lineup will need to provide offense on nights when the pitchers are a little off, and especially when they are on. The Yankees are simply not good enough to squander quality pitching performances due to a lack of run support. First half disappointments Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran need to power the lineup, and produce the way they have in the past. Otherwise, Derek Jeter’s illustrious career will not end with a bang, but a whimper in a meaningless regular season game in September.