What’s the worst thing that can happen to the Yankees, losing the A.L. East and backing into the post-season via the wildcard?
Well, actually, even worse, they could tie for first place at the end of the season and then have to deal with a “play-in” game against the Orioles (to determine who wins the division and who would be the wildcard). And, most likely, that game would be down in Camden Yards.
That “play-in” game would be on October 4th and that’s Andy Pettitte’s turn in the rotation. And, if the Yankees lost that game, then they would have to play the wildcard game the next day, on October 5th, winner take all, maybe in Oakland (if not in New York). And, that would be Phil Hughes’ turn in the rotation. Or, the Yankees could go with CC Sabathia on three days rest.
And, should the Yankees win that wildcard game, then they would have to play the Rangers on October 7th (to start the ALDS). And, if you used Sabathia on October 5th, then your choices for Game 1 of the ALDS are Hughes with extra rest or Hiroki Kuroda on three-days rest.
Think about that travel schedule: New York, Baltimore, Oakland and Texas in a span of five days. And, if you make it to the ALDS, you don’t exactly have your pitching rotation lined-up in great shape.
It almost makes more sense to lose the A.L. East, rather than tie it, if you cannot win it. At least that takes the Baltimore game out of the equation.