A look at the daunting road to the postseason

Still no timetable for Derek Jeter's return
Marchand: A-Rod has started process of filing medical grievance

As of this morning, the Yankees have a 4.3% and 6.3% chance of making the postseason according to Baseball Prospectus and Cool Standings, respectively. They are currently six games back of the second wildcard spot with 40 games to play, and they’ve managed to gain exactly zero games in the race despite winning six of their last nine games. That’s the problem with having to climb over four teams, someone is always winning on a given day.

The Yankees have a very small chance of making the postseason but it’s not impossible. Their lineup is much improved these days and both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte have started to pitch a little better, which will help the cause. Here’s a quick breakdown of the team’s remaining schedule compared to the clubs they’re chasing for that second wildcard spot:

GB of 2nd WC Games Left Games Left vs. NYY Games Left vs. WC Contenders Games Left vs. .500+ Teams
Rangers +1.5 39 0 13 16
Rays +0.5 41 6 21 24
Athletics 0.0 40 0 13 17
Orioles 3.0 40 7 20 29
Indians 3.5 39 0 10 16
Royals 5.0 40 0 10 17
Yankees 6.0 40 - 13 20

I included the Rangers and Rays here just because they’re so very close to the second wildcard spot. The Rangers and Athletics have been trading first place in the AL West back-and-forth all season.

Despite their tough overall remaining schedule, the Rays and Orioles are in a good spot because they have a ton of games left against the other wildcard contenders. Those head-to-head matchups are crucial, and as long as they have a bunch of them left, they’re still in the race. The Indians have a really soft schedule down the stretch, with 14 of their final 17 games coming against the lowly Twins, Astros, and White Sox. If they stay close enough to the race these next four weeks, they’ll be in good position to close out the season strong.

Following tonight’s series finale against the Red Sox, the Yankees will play seven of their next ten and ten of their next 16 games against the Blue Jays and ChiSox. After that they run through the AL East gauntlet and close out the schedule with three games in Houston. Those 13 games against the Rays and Orioles can help their postseason cause — or completely bury them — but otherwise they’re at the whim of the other teams. All they can do is win their games. They’ll need a lot of help from the other wildcard contenders. Or, really, they’ll need help from the teams playing those wildcard contenders. The road to the postseason couldn’t get much tougher at this point.

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Still no timetable for Derek Jeter's return
Marchand: A-Rod has started process of filing medical grievance
  • Eddard

    They really need to get the deficit under 5 by the end of August. Tonight is a must win. They lost a Hiroki start yesterday which means they’ll have to win an automatic loss Phil Hughes start to make up for it. The key is winning tonight. Then they get Toronto at home and I expect the HRs to fly.

  • Deep Thoughts

    Go ahead and try. You can’t predict baseball, Susan.

    Although you can project baseball all you want. Have at it. I guess that’s why they play the games.

    See? We all deserve John Sterling and his cliches because posts like this one keep appearing.

  • William H. Bonney AKA Billy the Kid

    I like these odds…

  • trr

    Yeah, times like these invite all the old cliches. But you know what? There all true, to a certain extent
    My personal fav: Ya gotta play ‘em one at a time!

    So…let’s win tonight !

  • nycsportzfan

    Ichiro’s gotta get in a groove again. Hes in a 115BA over his last 7games funk. Finally we got guys to drive him in and hes not getting on. Lets go Ichiro!

    • Pat D

      Don’t stop there.

      He’s at a robust .231/.255/.242 since the ASB.

      • Kosmo

        just throw letter high fastballs to Ichiro and he´ll comply by tapping weak groundballs to the infield. He and all of his 29 RBIs.

      • WhittakerWalt

        MIKE AXISA WHY YOU ALWAYS SO MEAN TO ICHIRO!???

        This is why. Because the only thing Ichiro brings to the table now is batting average, and even that is empty lately.

    • Lukaszek

      Ichiro’s hits can be compared to relations with a women you do not love. It’s empty, meaningless. Even though it’s still sex, there is no passion, you just want to finish and never bring it up again.

      Soriano’s hits are like making love to a beautiful angel. When it happens, it’s great and energetic, and there’s like saints singing in the background and stuff, so you don’t want it to ever end.

  • Kosmo

    looking back at this season NY is 1-12 vs. Oakland, Mets and the Pale Hose. The inability to play these 3 teams evenly would have made a tremendous difference in the current standings. So be it.

    • Pat D

      Forget Oakland, even. If they’d just gone 4-3 against the Mets and White Sox instead of 0-7 there would be a tremendous difference.

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    You just gotta hope for a mini miracle.

    What were the Red Sox chances of making the playoffs 2 years ago when the Rays squeaked by them on the last day of the season? It had to be 95% at least going into september.

    • Will

      99.7. But that Rays team was far superior than this year’s Yankees. And it’s stretching it to hope for a collapse like that.

    • Kosmo

      The Sawx got off to an 18-8 April and they´ve played slightly better than .500 ball since. So it is possible for the Rays with their SP to overtake Boston . All the Rays need is a good 3 week run.

      • Will

        They played 55-44 since then. Big difference.

        • Kosmo

          I should have said they played slightly better than .500 ball EACH month so Boston would pick up about 3 games per, more or less. Still 55-44 is not a sign of a great team. Boston´s SP is not by any means championship caliber.

          • Kramerica Industries

            That’s a 90 win pace. The last two Cardinals championship teams were right around that, or worse. I think the last two Giants teams were also a touch above that, at best.

            In todays parity ridden league, 90 wins can be good enough to be a championship squad.

  • Yankonymous

    totally off topic, but…

    Do you know what’s awesome about taking away Tejada’s 2002 MVP award? You can’t give it to the next guy, cause it’s Arod.

    The next guy in the list…Alfonso Soriano.

    • WhittakerWalt

      Taking away guys’ MVP awards is insane. This is just one example of why.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    You said it best the other day, Mike. If we’re going down, we’re going down in a blaze of glory. Just win.

    I’ll reserve my eulogy for when it’s 0%. I’m sure it’s likely that day comes. I’m in no hurry to proclaim it here already.

    • mustang (The Has Beens & Wannabes Bunch 2013)

      Second this.

      After the White Sox sweep I didn’t think they were even going to be this close. Hell I didn’t even think they were going to stay over .500.

      My happiest sport memories have come with teams that didn’t have a chance. The 1996 Yankees down 0-2 going to Atlanta and the Giants beating the 12-point favorites undefeated Pats.

      There just an extra joy in doing something that really they have no business doing.

  • your mom

    So you’re saying there’s a chance.

  • LarryM Fl

    First, the obvious we must win as many games as possible. Second, if Bud Selig and MLB owners are going to take every perceived advantage away from the Yankees then there must be a balanced schedule. The teams in the West get to play the LAA, Mariners and Houston about 54 times. The teams in the Central get to play against Chicago and Minnesota while the AL East has four teams in the hunt for a playoff spot. The AL East weakest team is Toronto with a winning % higher than the teams mentioned above.

    “There is no crying in baseball.” But we should look to make this competiton fair. That may not make for good TV the Yanks playing Houston 11 times a year but its fair.

    • The Other Sam

      Your second sentence pretty much eliminstes the need for the rest of the post doesn’t it? Pretty much that’s it.

      • LarryM Fl

        You need additional info to support the second sentence. IMHO. MLB does not have the balance schedule because it would support the Yankees. Owners of the other teams may reap some revenue with the balance schedule. Houston at LAA was practically empty of fans. Travel would be increased. So I agree its easier to call for the balance schedule but their on drawbacks.

    • nsalem

      For many years we had the advantage of one third of our schedule consisting of the weak Devil Rays and Oriole and a very average Blue Jay team. It’s a pendulum that swings back and forth. A balanced schedule when you have 3 divisions in a league isn’t fair either because it allows a team in a weak division to sneak into the playoffs with potentially a .500 (or even worse record. If you went back to a balanced schedule the only way it would be fair would be to eliminate the divisions. You would have a 15 team league with the 1 through 3 teams competing against the winner of the 4 and 5 slot winners in a WC game in best of 5’s. That would have some major drawbacks also. The worst case scenario would be the 1 and 2 teams playing each other the last weekend of the season and the only thing they were playing for was HFA and the right to play the WC winner instead of team number 3.
      MLB like the NFL has devised their playoff systems in a manner that fairness can never be a priority.

  • LarryM Fl

    If you had no divisions than the first 5 teams would enter the playoffs. 4&5 one game playoff. 1 plays 4/5, 2 plays 3 then winners play, HFA goes to the team with best record. It seems simple on paper. It would eliminate teams such as the Yankees getting fat on the Rays and Orioles back in the day.

    There is a drawback to inter league play which would cut back on the balance schedule. The Yankees would play Boston even fewer times. So I guess TV would bitch and this process is over before it gets started.

  • Conor in China

    The Division is just as attainable as the Wild Card despite the larger deficit. After tonight there are still 7 more games against the Red Sox. The Red Sox and Orioles face very difficult schedules. Tampa may actually be the hardest to overtake, but we’d have to pass them up to reach the Wild Card anyway.

  • Caballo Sin Nombre

    It isn’t all that complicated. If they win 92 games, they are probably in. If they win less, they are probably out.