With 60 games left to the season, the Yankees still find themselves looking for a way to get into the post-season this year. (The “60 games to go” count includes an assumption that the Yankees, tonight, go on to win the completion of the suspended game from June 28th.)
There are two ways into October baseball: Win your division or win the Wildcard berth. So, with 60 games to go, where do the Yankees sit in comparison to these two goals?
For the A.L. East, the Yankees are 7 games back of the Boston Red Sox in the loss column – who also have 60 games to play.
For the Wildcard, the Yankees are 4 games back of the Cleveland Indians in the loss column – and they also have 60 games remaining this season.
Is it possible for the Yankees to close the gap on the Red Sox or Indians before the end of this year? Let’s look at the numbers:
As you can see, if Boston goes 30-30 in their remaining games, the Yankees would need to go 38-22 (.633) to pass them. And, if Cleveland goes 30-30 in their remaining games, the Yankees would need to go 35-25 (.583) to pass them. Can New York play .583 or .633 baseball over their last 60 games? Sure, yes, I believe that they can – but, will Boston or Cleveland only play .500 baseball from here to the end of the season? I doubt that.
Let’s assume that the Red Sox or Indians play .583 baseball the reason of this year – which is a reasonable, if not conservative, projection. This means that the Yankees would have to go 43-17 (.717) to pass the Red Sox and the Yankees would have to go 40-20 (.667) to pass the Indians.
What are the odds of the Yankees only losing 17 more games this season – over the next two-plus months? Let’s face it, that’s not going to happen for New York. However, can the Yankees win at a rate of “two out of every three games” from here until season end? While that’s an uphill fight, I think it’s possible – with a few breaks.
Therefore, the Yankees, at this junction, with 60 games to play, should forget about hoping to catch the Boston Red Sox in the A.L. East. That’s not going to happen unless the Red Sox tank in their last 60 games – and play .500 baseball or less from here to October. However, even if Cleveland plays well in their last 60 games, the Yankees can overtake them in the Wildcard chase. This is why the Yankees focus should be to win the Wildcard – and why Yankees fans should not concern themselves with Boston, but, more so, Yankees fans should be root for the Indians (and the Seattle Mariners, who are also in the Wildcard hunt) to lose their games.
Again, outside of a huge Boston letdown, the Yankees only hope at October baseball is winning the Wildcard. But, on the positive-side, that’s an attainable goal – and one where the Yankees can somewhat control their own destiny – by continuing to win series after series until year end.
Winning series after series, alone, will not allow the Yankees to pass the Red Sox. Again, if Boston goes 35-25 from here out, the Yankees can only allow themselves to lose 17 more games this year to pass them.
It’s Wildcard or bust for the Yankees this season.