The New York Yankees are fighting for their playoff lives, as they entered the weekend with a 1.5-game lead in the Wild Card standings after Giancarlo Stanton’s walk-off single against the Orioles on Friday.
In order for teams on the playoff bubble hoping to punch a ticket to October, they need their star players (especially pitchers) to rise to the occasion and their managers to be mistake-free in high-leverage situations.
They also need luck in the injury department. This point in the season is typically when we see an increase in injuries. Luckily for the Yankees, they’ve mostly lucked out in this regard over the last couple of months.
The same, however, cannot be said for the White Sox, who’ve now lost two starting pitchers to the injured list this week after they placed Lucas Giolito (hamstring) on the IL on Friday. He’ll join Lance Lynn (knee) on the shelf.
This might be perceived as good news by fans given the Yankees might have to play against Chicago in the playoffs. However, here’s why the White Sox’s pitching injuries could actually spell trouble for New York.
Why the White Sox’s pitching injuries are actually bad for the Yankees.
This is out of the Yankees’ control, which makes it all of the more infuriating, but the White Sox play Oakland and Boston in the next 10 days.
Those series’ could have massive implications in the AL Wild Card race and Chicago will be down two of its best starting pitchers. For context, Lynn is 10-4 with a 2.59 ERA, 152 strikeouts and a 1.076 WHIP this season and has gained legitimate steam as a Cy Young candidate. At the very least, he’ll earn some votes.
Giolito, meanwhile, is 9-9 with a 3.69 ERA, 180 strikeouts and a 1.112 WHIP. The 27-year-old right-hander has had his ups and downs this season, but we all know he’s capable of twirling a gem in a big game.
With the AL Central being the dumpster fire it is, the White Sox don’t have a ton to play for over the final month. They have a 9.5-game lead and just need to keep enough distance from Cleveland to clinch a home playoff series.
In other words, these injuries could flip the Wild Card race upside down. With Lynn and Giolito healthy, we’d give Chicago an excellent chance to beat up on Oakland and Boston, who are right on the Yankees tail. Without them, well, it goes without saying the Red Sox and A’s should be favored.
While New York has it “easy” right now vs the Orioles, their next seven games will come against the Blue Jays and Mets. While neither team is a world-beater by any stretch of the imagination, they aren’t pushovers, either.
With Gerrit Cole staking his claim as the favorite for the AL Cy Young and most of the lineup’s big boppers catching fire, the Yankees are perfectly positioned to claim on of the two Wild Card spots in the American League.
However, we’d feel a lot better about their chances to build on their lead if the White Sox’s pitching rotation wasn’t ransacked by injuries this week. Something to keep an eye on if the race tightens up over the next 10 days.