Yankees face stiff AL wild card competition

There is a scene in “And Justice For All” through which an off-kilter decide performed by Jack Warden takes a scared-of-flying lawyer performed by Al Pacino in a helicopter. It just isn’t till they’re midair that the decide explains a recreation he performs through which he calculates the midpoint for a way a lot gasoline he has, then flies past it to see if he can return safely.

The now hysterical lawyer spends the remainder of the flight imploring the decide to land early. The decide modifications the topic till they plop down within the water simply shy of the runway; secure, however with a frazzled passenger.

I’ve considered that scene along with this Yankees season. How far might they transcend the midpoint not enjoying properly and nonetheless land safely within the playoffs? They had been simply 41-40 midway by means of a 162-game season — 9 ¹/₂ video games out of first place and 5 behind within the wild card.

They entered the weekend with the AL’s second-best report since then. Yet nonetheless had been quick on the playoff runway — seven out within the division (the Rays had been the group with the higher report than the Yankees since they had been 41-40) and two out within the wild card.

Their pathway to a playoff spot is akin to 1995, after they performed inadequately many of the season earlier than a 25-6 shut allowed them to sneak in because the AL’s first wild card. That kick was powered by terrific rotation work, and the 2021 Yankees’ already robust pitching efficiency this 12 months must be fortified within the coming days/weeks with Aroldis Chapman, Gerrit Cole, Domingo German, Corey Kluber, Jordan Montgomery and maybe Clarke Schmidt (all with the large assumption of no setbacks or extra accidents). It certain would assist, as properly, if Joey Gallo, Aaron Judge and/or Giancarlo Stanton might carry the offense for some time.

Yankees players celebrate a home run during the "Field of Dreams" game.
Yankees gamers have a good time a house run throughout the “Field of Dreams” recreation.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

But the wild-card competition is best now than 1995. Let’s assume the AL East title is unobtainable for the Yankees and that the Mariners are usually not but able to vault into the playoffs. In that state of affairs, two of 4 would make it from the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and the AL West runner-up, both the Astros or A’s. I might suppose even the second wild card would attain at the least 92 wins. Do the Yankees have sufficient gasoline left to get there towards this competition?


No AL membership has a neater remaining schedule (based mostly on successful share). Houston has 17 video games nonetheless towards last-place Arizona, Kansas City and Texas. But the ultimate 9 video games are a home-and-home collection versus Oakland sandwiched round three versus the Rays. Even with Alex Bregman (quad) lacking the previous two months, the offense has thrived total this season (5.4 runs per recreation) with Michael Brantley because the lefty DJ LeMahieu (circa 2019-20) — suppose elite bat-to-ball abilities. But it has slowed a bit just lately with Carlos Correa struggling within the second of his walk-year audition.

Second-year GM James Click refurbished a problematic bullpen on the commerce deadline, notably with the additions of Yimi Garcia and Kendall Graveman. Will the rotation be adequate? Veterans Zack Greinke and Jake Odorizzi, specifically, must be higher.


Part of Oakland’s magic is enhancing because the season elapses. The A’s have six of the 32 finest second-half information from 2001-19 (there was no All-Star Game in 2020). And they gained 15 of their first 23 second-half video games this 12 months. They entered the weekend with seven straight wins and 11 victories in 13 video games.

Close your eyes Mets followers as a result of the one member of your group who has performed as many video games as Jed Lowrie this 12 months is Dom Smith — and Lowrie has returned to being knowledgeable hitter. Center-fielder Ramon Laureano was misplaced for the remainder of the season to a PED-related suspension, making trade-deadline acquisition Starling Marte all of the extra very important (in his first 12 Oakland video games, Marte hit .415 and was 9-for-9 in steals). First baseman Matt Olson will probably be a top-10 MVP finisher, maybe prime 5.

Oakland’s run prevention isn’t just reflective of its spacious residence park — its highway ERA is an AL-best 3.45. Chris Bassit and Sean Manaea have been two of the majors’ finest starters whereas Cole Irvin, James Kaprielian and Frankie Montas have been above common. Trade-deadline acquisition Andrew Chafin has deepened the pen (Sergio Romo may simply efficiently throw sliders ceaselessly).

The A’s have a troublesome schedule that features 4 pivotal video games Aug. 26-29 at residence towards the Yankees and are simply 22-31 towards groups .500 or higher.


Arguably no group nailed the mixture of free company (Robbie Ray, Marcus Semien, George Springer) and the commerce deadline (Jose Berrios, Adam Cimber, Corey Dickerson, Brad Hand and Trevor Rogers) in addition to Toronto. The Jays entered the weekend fourth within the AL East, but with the AL’s third-best run differential.

Semien and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are doubtless prime 5 within the AL MVP race and, after lacking many of the first three months this season, Springer has been among the many majors’ finest gamers. Toronto was purported to be a powerful offense. What is so encouraging has been the improved pitching (third-best AL ERA within the second half behind the A’s and Yankees) led by a rotation with Berrios, Ray, rookie Alek Manoah and Hyun-jin Ryu.

Perhaps the largest trade-deadline acquisition was the Blue Jays getting again their true residence in Toronto on July 30 for the primary time since 2019. They are 9-2 at Rogers Centre, having outscored their opponents 58-32. Only the non-contending Orioles have extra residence video games amongst AL groups the remainder of the way in which. The Jays have seven video games left towards the Yankees, 4 in The Bronx and three within the penultimate collection of the 12 months in Toronto.


None of the key AL contenders did much less on the deadline — Kyle Schwarber (hamstring) was nearing his Red Sox debut, whereas studying a brand new place (first base), and Austin Davis and Hansel Robles haven’t elevated the pen.

Martin Perez and Garrett Richards had been faraway from a abruptly wobbly rotation, which was scheduled to welcome ace Chris Sale (Tommy John surgical procedure) again Saturday virtually precisely two years to the day since his final main league outing. The shock of the AL for many of 4 months, the Red Sox had been an AL worst 3-10 because the July 30 commerce deadline.

Lineup depth has change into extra of a problem, so Boston can actually use Schwarber to return with the Red Sox near as sizzling as he was with the Nationals earlier than injuring his hamstring. The Yankees can have many regrets if they can’t overtake the Red Sox, dropping 10 of 13 to date to them and handing Adam Ottavino and Garrett Whitlock (mixed 2.48 ERA in 82 video games) for principally nothing however luxury-tax aid in Ottavino’s case.

The Yanks have six extra video games towards Boston, together with three at Fenway earlier than the Red Sox shut with an Orioles/Nationals layup.

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