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The Yankees Have All But Secured A Spot In The Playoffs

Overall, the Yankees have played below expectations this year. They were poised to win the AL East and have the best record in baseball. After a slew of injuries and two separate five-game losing streaks, the Yankees found themselves barely holding onto a playoff berth before their four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles. As of September 10th this week, the Yankees looked like they had a real shot at missing the playoffs as the Orioles, Tigers, and Mariners are chasing Yankees for a wild card spot in the American League.

Yet, a miracle happened. The Yankees are on their third five-game winning streak this season. For the first time in several weeks, the Yankees looked in sync. Their inconsistent starting rotation finally found their groove. Every single starter went at least five innings and gave up less than two earned runs during the winning streak. Overall, Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, Jordan Montgomery, J.A. Happ, and Deivi Garcia averaged a 1.21 ERA in 29.1 IP.

Since the Yankees starting rotation has gone deeper into games, the bullpen has been able to utilize Jonathan Holder, Chad Green, Zach Britton, and Aroldis Chapman more often. They have been the best relievers on the Yankees. Because the Yankees starters put the team in a good position to win ball games, the Yankees moved away from their secondary relievers such as Michael King, Brooks Kriske, Nick Nelson, and Albert Abreu. At the very least, the recent success of their starters has allowed the Yankees to send out their second-tier relievers in blowout victories.

As for their offense, the Yankees are still carried by DJ LeMahieu, Clint Frazier, and Luke Voit. The difference this week was that all three of these players and Gleyber Torres are on fire. As a whole, the quartet has slashed .333/.370/.667 with 5 HR and 19 RBIs in the last five games. Brett Gardner, Tyler Wade, and Kyle Higashioka went yard during the winning streak too. 

The Bombers burgeoning offense will only become stronger as Gio Urshela will rejoin the Yankees on Tuesday, whereas Aaron Judge will travel to the Yankees alternate training site alongside Giancarlo Stanton. Gio Urshela has arguably been a top-10 third baseman in baseball since his breakout season last year. Meanwhile, Stanton and Judge were tearing the cover off the baseball before they both succumbed to injury. Thus, the Yankees offense can carry the team in the home stretch of the season and during the playoff as well. 

If the Yankees missed the playoffs, they only have themselves to blame. The Yankees have a 4.5 game lead over the Mariners, and a 5.5 game lead over the Orioles and Tigers. The Yankees only have thirteen games remaining. In their last two weeks of regular season baseball, the Yankees face the Red Sox three times, the Blue Jays seven times, and the Marlins three times. The Yankees should take four out of six against the Marlins and Red Sox. Additionally, they should win at least three of the seven games against the Blue Jays. 

Therefore, if the Yankees go 7-6 in their last thirteen games, they should be able to secure a playoff berth. The Orioles, Tigers, and Mariners, who all have fourteen games remaining, would need to win almost every single game to make the playoffs. The Mariners would have to go 11-3, whereas the Orioles and Tigers would need to go 12-2. Even though anything can happen in baseball, all three of these teams are not good enough to end the season with that kind of record. As a result, the Yankees only need to play around .500 baseball to make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in a row. 

Incidentally, the Yankees winning streak has moved them just 0.5 games back of the Toronto Blue Jays. Thus, if the Yankees win the majority of the seven games against the Blue Jays, they could reclaim second place. Moreover, the Yankees would love to be a top-four seed in the AL because the best four teams in each league host a best-of-three series during the first round of the playoffs. Playing at Yankee Stadium would be incredible for the Pinstripes, especially since they are 18-7 at home, compared to 8-14 on the road. Although it would be extremely difficult, if the Yankees win 10+ games in the final two weeks, they should pass the Twins for the number four seed in the American League or even reclaim first place in their division. 

Nevertheless, the Yankees have gone on a hot streak at the perfect time. Hopefully, they can finish the season strong. Whether or not this happens, the Yankees are still playoff bound. Therefore, it is not a matter of will the Yankees make the postseason, it is what seed they will capture in the AL playoff bracket. 

Sources:

https://www.espn.com/mlb/standings

https://www.fangraphs.com/

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