Can the Yankees make the Playoffs?
An Up and Down Start
Roughly one quarter of the regular season is over, and it’s been an interesting year so far. After making the playoffs in 2015, the Yankees got off to a rocky to start in 2016. They’ve posted a losing record for most of this year, and for a time, it seemed the team was headed for even rougher waters. Fortunately, the Yankees have rebounded. They’ve captured six wins in a row, and eight out of their last 10. With a 22-22 record they’re exactly .500 this season. Perched on the precarious edge that divides both success and failure. The Yanks currently find themselves 5.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox, and with 118 games yet to be played, there’s plenty of season left.
Injuries and Sub-par Play
Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira haven’t been nearly the same this season. After a renaissance year for the ‘bash brothers,’ 2016 seems quite a different story. A-Rod is currently in the minors, rehabbing from injury, and Teixeira is batting under .200. Together the duo tallied more than 60 homeruns in 2015. This year they may struggle to reach 30. Perhaps their age is starting to catch up with them.
Didi Gregorious and Chase Headley have likewise underperformed. Gregorious appeared to be on the verge of something big last year. He flashed his leather with stellar defense, and contributed much more than expected on offense. Unfortunately, Didi’s now on pace for the worst season of his career. Even his trademark defense has hurt the team.
A Call to Arms
Despite a virtually untouchable trio in the bullpen, the Yankees have a pitching problem. It’s one thing to close a game in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, but it’s another thing entirely to get through the beginning of the game with a lead. Luis Severino was erratic, if not outright atrocious, before landing on the disabled list. His 7.46 ERA jumped up nearly 5 points from last year. Michael Pineda has struggled to duplicate his delivery consistently. He’s given up hits at a staggering rate – 11.6 per nine innings. And while Masahio Tanaka, C.C. Sabathia, and Nathan Eovaldi have had so far productive years, it’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong. It would be fantastic if Tanaka, Sabathia and Eovaldi could get through the entire season without issues, and Yankees fans should pray to the baseball gods for such luck. However, none of the aforementioned pitchers have notched 200 innings since 2013. In fact, Sabathia is the only one to have done it in his career even once.
Are the Yankees Playoff Bound?
The Yankees can certainly entertain the notion of a postseason – though the chances are slim. It is possible A-Rod and Teixeira will rebound, stimulating an otherwise stagnant offense. Rodriguez may come back from rehab with a bang, and Teixeira could follow suit. Furthermore, it is possible that the starting pitching holds together for the remainder of the season. While injury prone in the past, it is difficult to predict future production.
That being said, the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles present a tough situation to solve. The Yankees will have to rebound in multiple areas, not only enough to exceed their present production, but enough to surpass the other teams in the East.
When it comes to the playoffs certainly don’t count the Yankees out – there’s still plenty of ball left to play – but don’t get your hopes up too much.