The brutal September schedule that might not be a problem

When a tie in the loss column isn't a tie
Ravel Santana's injury: broken ankle and torn ligaments

At the moment, the Yankees have a 99.2% or a 98.9% chance to make the playoffs, depending on who you ask. They’ve gone 8-4 this month to stretch their lead in the wildcard race to nine games in the loss column, and their next 15 games will be played against four sub-.500 teams a combined 38 games below the break-even point. It’s not a stretch to think that they could roll into Fenway Park two weeks from tomorrow a dozen games up on a playoff spot. That cushion is good news, because the schedule at the end of the season is straight up brutal.

The Yankees were originally supposed to play two games from September 19th to 22nd, a two-game set against the Rays both preceded and followed by an off day. Now they’re going to play five games in that four day stretch. The first off day will instead be used to make up an April 6th rain out against the Twins, and the second off day will be used to make up a July 8th rain out against the Rays (because Tampa didn’t want to play a doubleheader the next day). At some point during that series they’ll also play a doubleheader to make up yesterday’s rain out. I guess the good news is that all of those games will be in the Bronx, so it’s the other teams that have to deal with the travel. The Yankees will be coming back from Toronto on the 18th, so not a long flight.

The last ten games of the season will be played against the Rays (seven games) and Red Sox, which are never easy. The Yankees also have to make one more west coast trip in the middle of September, visiting Anaheim and Seattle for three games apiece. With any luck, that road trip and those last ten games will be little more than tune-ups for the postseason, with September call-ups seeing the majority of the action in the doubleheader, day games after night games, stuff like that. Plus their already sizable lead on a playoff berth could increase before the rough stretch of the schedule arrives, making things that less dire. It could also decrease, but that’s another post for another time.

The Yankees are technically half-a-game back of the Red Sox in the AL East, but they’re tied in the loss column. All they need to do is win one more lose one fewer game than Boston the rest of the way to take the division. They could make a big move over the next week, since the Yankees have that light schedule and the Sox will play seven of their next eleven games against the Rays and Rangers (with a four-gamer against the Royals mixed in). Getting into the playoffs is always the top priority, but winning the AL East would likely mean an ALDS matchup against the Tigers or Indians, not the Rangers. We’re getting way ahead of ourselves though.

With about six weeks left in the season, the Yankees lead baseball in run differential (+175) by a significant margin (32 runs), and are on pace for 99 wins (98.82, to be exact). They took care of business earlier in the season and are in the middle of the soft part of their schedule, which hopefully makes the last two or three weeks of the season relatively meaningless. The division will probably still be on the line then, but as long as a postseason berth is in the bag, we’ll have little reason to sweat what will probably be the toughest stretch of the season.

When a tie in the loss column isn't a tie
Ravel Santana's injury: broken ankle and torn ligaments
  • Squishy Jello Person

    Being completely honest here, if you asked me on April 1st if the Yankees would be in this position I would have said no way

  • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

    You said you want to to win the division to face the Tigers/Indians, but then you say “The division will probably still be on the line then, but as long as a postseason berth is in the bag, we’ll have little reason to sweat” I don’t know about you, but to me, there’s a pretty big difference between facing the Rangers or Angels without HFA and facing the Indians or Tigers (with CC going against Verlander) with HFA.

    • Mike Axisa

      There’s a difference, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. The Yankees steamrolled the Tigers in 2006 and the Indians in 2007, but it didn’t matter in the postseason.

      • Mister Delaware

        Although it would be pretty nice to be able to start back-to-back lefties in the Stadium in round 1.


    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I don’t know about you, but to me, there’s a pretty big difference between facing the Rangers or Angels without HFA and facing the Indians or Tigers… with HFA.

      You’re right, there is a pretty big difference… to you.

      To the rest of us, as well as to the Yankees, Rangers, Angels, Indians, Tigers, the other 25 clubs in Major League Baseball, and pretty much all of recorded baseball history, no, there isn’t really a big difference between having HFA and not having HFA. You think there’s a big difference because the narrative tells you it’s important and your flawed human memory (prone to confirmation bias) seems to agree that it’s important, but it’s not really important at all.

      HFA matters a good amount in basketball, a fair amount in football, and practically not at all in baseball. It’s nice to have for strategic purposes (who wouldn’t want a last chance to tie?), but having HFA isn’t nearly as significant as having the better or hotter or luckier team during the 7-game series.

      Worry about getting there, getting there healthy, getting there rested, and getting there clicking and playing well. Don’t worry about where “there” is.

      • Bud Selig

        Shhhhhhhhhhhh, you’re ruining my narrative!

        That HFA crap is the only thing that keeps casual fans watching the All-Star Game!

      • CountZero

        I know this has been said quite a bit and there is some evidence to support it, but I don’t believe it’s as clear a case as some make it out. Here’s why:

        (1) Here are the home records of the best five home teams in MLB right now: 44-15, 42-19, 39-23, 37-22, 40-24. Conversely the best five road teams are: 36-22, 36-22, 36-24, 35-27, 33-27. Hmmm…the worst of the five home records is better than the top road record. Looks like it’s easier to dominate at home than on the road?

        (2) I’m not going to go digging for the stats right now, but I know the edge in win% for MLB home teams in the playoffs (and pretty much everywhere) is much smaller than it is in the NFL and the NBA. But that’s misleading because that’s true across all games. A .600 win% in baseball is every bit as dominant as an .700 win% in the NBA. Thirteen teams have posted > .800 win % seasons in the NBA. That’s the equivalent of winning 130 games in MLB! Nine more teams have hit .780. And the NFL has of course had two 1.000 win% seasons.

        (3) MLB actually has the clearest reason for a HFA — it is the only one of the three where the dimensions of the playing field vary and a team can be tailored to match that advantage. Yes, the NFL has domes and turf — and there is no doubt that a January playoff game in GB is a bitch for the road team. But in MLB you can tinker with the dimensions of the park, the mound height, the foul territory, the track, the infield foul lines… All football fields have 100 yards between goal lines and the rims are always 10 ft high in the NBA.

        It’s clear that HFA is not AS important in MLB as in the other two — not sure it’s as meaningless as it is often made out to be though.

        • Sweet Dick Willie

          Pretty sure you can’t tinker w/ mound height – they all must be 10″ high.

          Also, how can you tinker w/ foul lines? They all form a 90 degree angle from home plate.

          • CountZero

            Not sure if you can today, but for many years teams toyed with the level of the dirt and how close the line was to the edge of the grass. The thought being — if you were Herzog’s Cards and you had speed guys, you wanted those bunts and dribblers to roll fair more often than foul.

            But that’s just a minor point — you can’t tell me that both the Yanks and Sox haven’t made use of the clear handed-ness advantage both their parks offer over the years. :)

          • CountZero

            Heh — just shows how ancient I am:

            From 1903 through 1968, this height limit was set at 15 inches, but was often slightly higher, sometimes as high as 20 inches (50.8 cm), especially for teams that emphasized pitching, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were reputed to have the highest mound in the majors.

  • MannyB ace2be

    Little off topic but thinking of sept call ups what if manny b comes up and is just filthy wonder what 2012 starting rotation looks like

  • MattG

    Well, win two more games (or lose one less).

    I want the division. I was disgusted by how they finished out last year, and even then, they only lost out to the Rays. Finish AHEAD of the Red Sox. Mo needs Mystique and Aura in game seven!

    • Mike Axisa

      That’s a better way to put it, lose one less.

  • ida nextace MannyB

    Who do u think will be the most impactful out of sept call ups I personally hope manban comes up filthy and is a weapon in postseason

    • CS Yankee

      2011 LOOGY
      2012 Opening Day, Starter in AAA
      2012 July callup to replace Colon (whose arm falls off eight months after winning G7 of the 2011 WS)

      • Jesse

        What makes you think he’ll be a LOOGY? His numbers against lefties aren’t that great. He’ll be a one inning guy no matter who is coming up whether it’s a lefty or a righty. He won’t come in in the middle of an inning to get one lefty out. In fact,the Yankees have said that he’ll only start innings, and considering he’s better against righties, he’ll pitch one inning at a time.

  • steve s

    After last year’s 9 and 17 finish I’m more than a little concerned with 7 of the last 10 against the Rays (and the other 3 against the Red Sox) and one more West Coast trip still to go in Sept. I don’t think this year’s squad will survive a 9-17 finish. I agree with Mike; a cushion of a dozen games in the loss column for the wildcard by the end of August should be the goal meaning pedal to the metal the next 2-3 weeks then try not to do worse than .500 the rest of the way.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    The last ten games of the season will be played against the Rays (seven games) and Red Sox, which are never easy.

    Unless both the Yankees and Red Sox have all but wrapped up playoff spots by Game #152 (which is highly likely), in which case it will be exceedingly easy, as those 10 games won’t mean much of anything to anyone at all.

    • Jim S

      Eh, easy in the sense of not stressful, but if the games don’t matter neither team involved in a matchup will have their A lineups. If both teams don’t care, IMO, competition level stays the same.

  • Bronx Byte

    The Yankee bullpen could be the difference maker. Boston’s shaky starting rotation has caused a heavier workload of innings on their bullpen : Bard-54, Papelbon-54, Albers-40, Aceves-37, Wheeler-36, and Morales-35.

    The Yankees : Robertson-46, Rivera-45, Ayala-38, Logan-29, Wade, 23, and Soriano-21.
    The quality starts of C.C., Nova, Colon, and Garcia help.

  • mike_h

    atleast 40 man rosters will expand so when we do play the doubleheader agaisnt the Rays as long as we get a commanding lead we could let the AAA folks soak up bullpen innings

  • Monteroisdinero

    But they’re playing a team tonight with a #3 hitter batting higher than any of our starters:


    • Jerome S.


      But really, enough.

      • Monteroisdinero

        Sorry-I was off-line all day and didn’t see the Series/Royals thread until after I posted. Thought that thread is usually posted later in the day.

        All we really needed was Golson as a 4th of’er this year and Montero as DH/part-time catcher. Melky not needed.

        /lights another fire…

    • FIPster Doofus
  • Urban

    I don’t like this .03% gap between BP and CoolStandings belief in the Yankees making the playoffs.

  • Kramerica Industries

    The Red Sox certainly have the easier finishing stretch.

    Six of their last nine are against the friggen Orioles.

    • Rick in Boston

      Maybe the O’s can induce a few more bench clearing brawls.