The Yankees need to put last weekend behind them and fast. After coming into Fenway Park only 5.5 games behind the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox, Aaron Boone’s Yankees were looking to leave Boston only 1.5 games back. They had the firepower, they had the arms, and they needed to go to work.
Instead, they got worked… well, technically they got swept, including a walk-off loss after Aroldis Chapman blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning, his first unsuccessful save in his last 22 appearances. 9.5 games back from the RedSox. Not a great way to start off in August.
Going into the final two months of the season the Yankees are facing their largest deficit this season, sitting 9 games back from Boston. At this point in time, the rivalry is dead and the Yankees need to focus on other pressing matters.
Pitching? No, not the pitching, but that’s a problem for sure. Offense? No, no the offense, although the Yanks need to find an answer for Aaron Judge’s absence. I’m talking about something more dangerous, something that could topple the Yankees season in the blink of an eye. What am I talking about?
The AL West
That’s right, the team thought to have had a lock on winning the AL East now needs to turn their gaze backward because the real threat is no longer in front of them, it’s behind them. And it’s closing in fast.
Over the next month, the Bronx Bombers will face some pretty terrible teams with the exception of the trap game nuisances, the Tampa Bay Rays. This should be a chance for the Yankees to regroup, get their heads right and set a game plan for September, a hellish month for them on paper.
September opens up with a West Coast road trip where the Yankees will face the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics, two teams hot on the Yankees trail in the Wildcard race.
The Oakland A’s have been playing out of their minds and were finally buyers at the deadline for the first time in what feels like forever. The A’s are riding a wave of young talent and solid veterans who are making a lot of noise with their bats. Will their pitching hold up? Only time will tell, but it looks like the A’s will be heading to their first postseason appearance since 2014 if they continue playing this way. Who started that Wild Card game for Oakland? That’s right, Yankees starter Sonny Gray, who owns a 6.23 ERA in the second half.
Seattle, on the other hand, has a few more question marks than Oakland. Since their star second baseman Robinson Cano was suspended for 80 games for violating the MLB’s PED policy, the M’s have gone 40-30. That’s astounding considering how big a piece Cano was to the Seattle lineup. Without Cano up the middle, the Mariners have been able to utilize Dee Gordon at his natural position at second, something that everyone can get behind.
The front of this lineup is amazing. Gordon leads off followed by Jean Segura who is having an amazing year in Seattle. Following both of them are sluggers Mitch Haniger and Nelson Cruz. That’s a difficult top 4 to get through and once you do, you still have to face Corey’s brother, Kyle Seager. The Mariners have all the tools on paper, but can they put those pieces together when Cano comes back on August 14th? Only time will tell.
Back in the Bronx
The Yankees are currently 3 games up on the Athletics and 5 games up on the Mariners, but as we creep towards October those margins seem much smaller than they appear. But aren’t the objects in your rearview mirror closer than they may seem?
With the Red Sox 9 games up, and the AL West nipping at their heels the Yankees need to right their ship before sailing into the Bermuda Triangle on September, or else their season might just be completely lost before they even get there.
In order to do that the Yankees have some soul searching to do. There are some serious issues with this roster and things that weren’t rectified during the deadline.
The Yankees pitching is the biggest question mark with Luis Severino on the downturn, Sonny Gray going MIA and the newly acquired J.A. Happ getting hand, foot, and mouth disease. Even if the Yankees get to the Wild Card game, who’ll start for them is still a mystery. I mean, would give Severino the ball right now? I wouldn’t. Not with that 9.60 ERA in the second half.
In their first game after being swept by the Red Sox, the Yankees crushed the Chicago White Sox 7-0 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Powered by solid hitting from the middle of their lineup and a solid start from Lance Lynn, who is looking for a fresh start, the Yankees looked like their normal selves. They need to chase that feeling and capture it. They need to regain that confidence and swagger they had
The road to October begins out west, and the Yankees need to get ahead of the M’s and A’s before their season is F’ed.