I'm one of the guys that's all about staying positive around here. The Yankees are a fun, young team that is built to win both now and in the future. They've had an amazing year, really. Their biggest problem this season remains that they play in the same division as the Boston Red Sox.
The Yankees are still on pace for about 101 wins. That’s awesome. With that having been said, they no longer have the “second best record in baseball” thing going for them (Houston has surpassed them and is absolutely rolling right now) and I am officially nervous about the rest of this season. Let’s talk about it.
- The Oakland A’s
The A’s continue to lose precisely zero percent of the games they play. It’s really annoying! They are now looming just two games back of the Yanks with about 17 games to go at the time of this writing. They’re kicking ass while the Yankees seem to keep doing this good week, meh week, good week, meh week thing. They’ve made up a lot of ground.
The Yankees were once up by over 8 games for the top Wild Card spot not that long ago, but it’s now down to two games. They just won an exciting matchup over the A’s in Oakland last week, but the A’s made them look pretty silly in the other two games, and I think we all agree that we don’t want to be there again.
Even if Oakland didn’t suck to be in almost as much as Tropicana Field, the Yankees obviously want that game to be played at home. Few teams have been curated to the dimensions of their home ballpark like Cashman has with this team. The Yanks like to hit dingers, and it’s much easier to do that in the Bronx than in Oakland.
Moreover, the Yankees will play the last series of the season in Boston before going to wherever the Wild Card Game location will be. Assuming they win that game, then they would have to go right back to Boston, the top seed in the AL. For the travel reasons, on top of all else, the Yanks need to make sure that game is in the Bronx and not on the West Coast.
The Yankees have 17 games left. Assuming the worst they go is 9-8, Oakland would still need to go 12-5 to overtake them, since the Yanks hold the home field advantage tiebreaker. That could very well happen the way these two clubs have played the last couple of months. I hope the Yankees go, like 14-3 and make it a moot point, but Oakland is looming.
- Aaron Judge
It seems like- seems like- Judge is starting to turn a corner on his rehab from the broken wrist he suffered on July 26. He started swinging a bat last Monday and has begun doing real batting practice on the field. He claims he’s still feeling soreness and some pain. It makes sense because the wrist is still broken. Time is not on the Yankees side, though, because there are only a few weeks to go and, in the best possible scenario, Judge can play in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre minor league championship series this weekend and not have to do this weird rehab-in-real-games thing that Didi has been doing (he looks good, by the way).
I obviously want Judge back. Even if he’s not nearly the player we know he is when he returns due to not playing for seven weeks or still being injured, his mere presence lengthens the lineup and scares opponents tremendously. I am worried, though, that they could rush him back and create problems for him moving forward, which would be no bueno. It looks like they’ll get him back, but I’m worried that he might not be much of an upgrade on the field at this point, and we could be really messing with his health by rushing it.
The Yankees have relatively struggled in the second half for many reasons, but I think the biggest one, besides the injuries, and the most concerning one is Luis Severino. He was the best pitcher in baseball through July 1, and since then he has the worst ERA in baseball. I hate it. I want him to be good again, and I’m starting to wonder if we’ll be able to trust him to start a playoff game. We certainly can’t throw him out there in the Wild Card Game, at this point, right? These last two or three starts for Sevy are massively important because they need him right in order to have a remotely intimidating rotation. I love Tanaka, Happ, CC, and Lynn, but they’d look a lot better with Lynn in the pen and Severino as their best weapon.
I suppose Voit has stepped in and played well enough that I shouldn’t be thinking about Greg Bird anymore for the rest of 2018, but I can’t help it. Bird, more than any Yankee I can remember, is someone that I just personally want to be good so badly, and he’s had a bad year. He’ll be the first to tell you that it hasn’t been what he’s wanted. I hope it’s not an instance of the injuries catching up to him, and he gets a normal routine in 2019 that brings success, but he’s at the end of the bench right now, and it makes me sad.
- Gary Sanchez
Gary has looked so much better in recent games, and I love him with all of my heart. I am one of the staunchest Gary defenders on Twitter, hands down. With that having been said, oh boy he sure is hitting balls hard and right at people for double plays really often, huh? Like I said, he seems to be coming out of it (he just went 3-5 in the series opener against the Twins and knocked in a sac fly the next day), so I won’t dwell on it, but the double plays sure are irritating.
- Boone and the Bullpen
I think Boone has done a mostly fine job this year, but down the stretch, I’ve grown pretty frustrated with his bullpen decisions. AJ Cole ever being in games? Luis Cessa being the guy just because we’re down a couple of runs? Punting games really often? Don’t like it. Cessa has, apparently, only been in 12 games this year, but I swear it has been no less than 372 games. I feel like I see him every day and I hate it.
He’s had plenty of other gaffes, which come with being a rookie manager. I think a lot of them are overblown and fans are too quick to blame Boone for stuff that is clearly not his fault. One thing I know he has control over, though, is the bullpen decisions, and I haven’t loved it and it makes me worried.
I really don’t know what my grand point here is. I think it’s that, basically, all of these things have been building up in my mind, and seeing how close Oakland is over our shoulders now has made me go a little bonkers and have these feelings closer to the forefront of my mind. Let’s go win some baseball games so that I can calm down and be happy and optimistic again.