Yankees' place in MLB standings could be stuck after mid-May due to schedule quirk

Cleveland Guardians v New York Yankees
Cleveland Guardians v New York Yankees / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The New York Yankees' injury situation has become dire in recent weeks, with the rest of the lineup falling like dominoes in the wake of Giancarlo Stanton's hamstring strain.

Aaron Judge has a hip issue. Harrison Bader returned from the IL, only to get kicked in the head and/or neck by Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Willie Calhoun is the paragon of truth. It's a tough scene.

Luckily, thanks to MLB's new balanced schedule, the Yankees have plenty of time to make up an early AL East defici--oh, wait. I'm sorry, I must've read that wrong.

The Yankees have almost no time to make up an early AL East deficit, because they're getting almost all their games against the Rays and Jays out of the way during the most heinous injury reckoning they've experienced since 2019. Just great.

Hey, maybe this works itself out. Maybe the Red Sox keep surging and become the "real" enemy, as the Yankees get healthy enough to face them (the first Yanks-Sox series occurs June 9-11 at Yankee Stadium). But, as of now, it looks like if the Yankees are going to cut into Tampa's lead, they're going to have to do it during the next two weeks, after they've been beset by a wave of IL stints.

MLB Standings: AL East might be decided (for Yankees) in next two weeks

OK, Brian. We won't give up on you. We'll watch. We'll stare at Willie Calhoun's past eight games' worth of stats (.346/.357/.577, 155 wRC+) and wish and hope and dream. But, most importantly, we'll watch two different series against the Tampa Bay Rays over the course of one week with our hands over our eyes.

Yup. The Yankees head to Tampa this weekend in a longshot attempt to shave a few games off their 8.5-game deficit. Then, following a three-game series with the A's, the Rays come to the Bronx for four more. If that doesn't tire out New York's skeleton crew, they'll have a chance to head immediately to Toronto for a four-game test of their will.

After that? The Yankees don't play the Rays again until July 31, and they don't face off with Toronto again before Sept. 19! September!!

If the AL East gets spicy this season -- and it certainly could, considering the Yankees nearly blew a 15.5-game lead last July and August -- it will have to either happen due to an extreme bout of Tampa Bay misfortune, or it will have to happen before May 20.

Based on the Yankees' recent performance and ever-growing list of injured players, they probably won't be able to take it upon themselves, and will instead have to cross their fingers and hope for their rivals' demise.