Yankees: 90 wins was once a stroll, now it’s an all-out sprint

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

The Yankees, at one time, were engaged in an easy stroll to reach the mark of 90 wins that usually guarantees an appearance in the playoffs. Now, it’s going to require an all-out sprint to reach that goal.

As we know, the Yankees at one time this season were playing at a .700 clip with a record of 21-9 and making it look easy. The talk was not about making the playoffs, but how far they could go, and World Series was usually a part of the conversation.

Stranger things have happened in baseball, and the Yankees could still re-enter that conversation. But a more realistic look at the second half of the 2017 season now begs the question – can the Yankees even make the playoffs?

Of course, they can, but to do it things have tightened up a bit. How much have they tightened up? Considerably. Some simple math tells us all we need to know.

Everything hinges on the next three weeks, and the action off the field will be as decisive as the action on the field.

As of Friday morning, the Yankees have played 83 games, winning 44 of them for a .530 winning percentage. Using 90 wins as the barometer a team typically needs to make the playoffs, the Yankees need to go 46-33, a winning percentage of almost .600 to reach that goal.

Reducing the math to its lowest terms, all this means is that over each ten-game span, we need to see 6-4 next to the Yankees instead of what has become more common of late, 4-6 and 5-5.

And remember, this only takes into account what the Yankees are doing for the remainder of the season. And it doesn’t have anything to do with what the other six teams in the Wild Card race are doing or not doing.

Reluctantly, the scoreboard watch begins

As recounted in a story yesterday, the Yankees are in serious competition with the Royals, Twins, and Rays in the Wild Card race. Kansas City, in particular, is setting the kind of pace that mirrors what the Yankees were doing in April and May and as play begins today, are only a half-game behind the Indians for the Division lead.

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Thought to be probably sellers at the trade deadline, the Royals, facing the likely loss of players like Mike Moustakas Kevin, Sal Perez, and Kevin Hosner to free agency,  have decided to make this the last hurrah for the team that won the Championship only two years ago.

So now, instead of possibly trading Cy Young candidate, Jason Vargas (12-3 2.62) and just returning Danny Duffy to teams in need of starting pitching, the Royals will be joining other teams like the Yankees in the hunt for pitching help.

The Tampa Bay Rays are in a similar situation when it was thought that Chris Archer and Logan Morrison would be their bait thrown in the water. But now, when they find themselves trailing in the Wild Card by only a half-game, their decisions are not as automatic.

Bringing it all back home

The Yankees, while no means being out of this thing, need to run pedal to metal through the rest of July to regain some level of comfort in knowing they will be playing baseball in October. They will be playing the teams that matter (Twins and Rays) following the set with the Red Sox right after the All-Star break.

Adding to the mix, however, will be the trade deadline looming over all teams. Can Brian Cashman insert the pieces the team needs to push them to the 90-win mark? And I’m assuming that we all agree the team as composed today cannot do it with what they currently have.

I can’t recall the last time the Yankees ran off an 8-2 mark over ten games or for that matter even a 7-3. Predictions as to what will happen tend to go out the window, as they should. And for all, we know now, every team in competition with the Yankees can stumble their way through the season and never pose a threat to the Bombers, and they prevail with only 85 wins, instead of 90.

But, would you want to lay your eggs in that basket?

This team needs help to ensure they get to October, no two ways about it. Everything hinges on the next three weeks, and the action off the field will be as decisive as the action on the field.