Well, coming into this week in last Monday’s Bronx is Boiling, I said if the New York Yankees didn’t go 4-2 on the week, we Yankee fans should close the book on 2014. The boys in pinstripes made us sweat it out this week, dropping their first two games to the Houston Astros. They then turned it around and won four in a row to close out the week including two exciting walk-offs and a sweep of the Chicago White Sox.
It’s weeks like that which gives Yankees fans hope that maybe that last Wild Card spot is within reach. This coming week is tremendous in inching closer. A make-up matchup against the red-hot Kansas City Royals leads up to a three-game series at Detroit and then Toronto. If the Yankees can win those two series, we will be entering September with a fighting chance to be cheering this October.
No one believes in this team though. Everyone turns to FanGraphs and experts who show that the Yankees have about a seven percent chance of making the playoffs. So what? It’s all about getting hot at the right time. And that’s what I see on the horizon. The Bronx is Boiling and I need to blow some steam.
3 REASONS I TRULY BELIEVE THIS SQUAD IS PLAYOFF BOUND
Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but I think Derek Jeter gets one last run at number 28. The last time the Yankees had back-to-back playoff-less seasons, I was in high school. Just so you are aware what that really means, my 20-year reunion was last year. To say it’s been awhile is an understatement. There are three reasons this team is heading to October.
1. BRIAN McCANN
Everyone is down on McCann, but the way he has been slowly revving the engine in August is only a positive sign. McCann has four home runs and nine RBI in August with a week left to play, and no home run was bigger than yesterday’s pinch-hit bomb. Keep in mind he missed over a week with a concussion, so while his numbers don’t jump off the page, they are better than both his month of June and July. Since July 1, when McCann hit rock bottom, falling to .220 with a meager two home runs in the month of June, McCann has gotten his average up to .235. The problem with McCann was that his expectations were to high. He’s never driven in 100 runs nor has he ever hit over 25 home runs, so he is right on pace with his normal numbers. The hotter he gets in the middle of our order, the more stability the Yankees get. Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury are going to continue to get on base because that’s what they do. If McCann has come around and found his stroke, the Yankees run scoring problems get a big boost.
2. THE SCHEDULE
This week is a big test, but the reality is that the Tigers are reeling and the Toronto Blue Jays are really not that good. The Yankees are scheduled to see only one of the Tigers Big Three Cy Young winners this week, so they have to take advantage of that. If they come out of this week ahead, even at 4-3, September’s schedule puts the Yanks destiny in their own hands as it is a month full of divisional play. That means the Bombers, who keep in mind are still only six games out of winning the AL Least, still have eight gigantic games against the first place Baltimore Orioles. Ask yourself this question. Have you been sold that the Baltimore Orioles are a legitimate contender? I would hope the answer is no. At some point, the Orioles have to slip, and the Yankees will have the prime opportunity to pick up games.
Divisional play also means two very huge advantages. Six of the their last 27 games come against the Boston Red Sox and in case you haven’t noticed, the defending World Champions are absolutely terrible. They are the modern day Florida Marlins, putting together championship teams and selling off the big names to rebuild every few years. So while the Sox are being heralded for the big deadline moves, the simple fact is that right here and now, they are a joke. Secondly, the AL West teams will have to beat up each other, and that means one of the three teams currently in the Yankees way of the last Wild Card spot will have to lose games. That means that the Yankees can start picking up ground real quick if, and yes I am aware it is a big if, they start winning games.
THE SEPTEMBER CALL-UPS
All season long, we here at Yanks Go Yard, have stood pat that we have major league ready players rarin’ to go on the farm. Despite what all of the scouting reports say (anyone ever read Shane Greene’s scouting report?), many of my fellow writers agree that there are bats and a few bullpen arms ready to give these current Yankees a rest without missing a beat. Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela will be instant help to this line-up. With Martin Prado finding his stroke, he can move to a permanent outfield spot, allowing the Yankees to DFA Stephen Drew. Refsnyder and Pirela could possibly platoon immediately and bring some needed pop to the bottom of the line-up.
While we don’t possess many superstar pitchers on the farm, the arms of Bryan Mitchell, Chase Whitley, Jaron Long or Jacob Lindgren can work an inning or two and lessen the load of Dellin Betances and David Robertson. If you haven’t noticed, both have seemed overworked as of late. If the Yankees really want to make a late season run, Betances and D-Rob have to be fresh and ready to roll.
Am I guaranteeing that there will be October baseball? Absolutely not. What I am saying is that all of you on the Twitterverse and in the media who have written off this Yankees team need to take a step back and see where we are with just over a month left in the season. No other team in baseball would be in the playoff hunt with four of their five starting pitchers shelved for the season, yet the Yankees remain 2 1/2 out of the final playoff spot. This team finally has some stability, and are close to being one cohesive unit that understands and plays well together. I have faith The Captain sees at least one playoff series this season. So should you.