The AL East title isn’t off the table just yet

The fat lady has yet to sing. She hasn't even warmed up yet. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

The fat lady has yet to sing. She hasn’t even warmed up. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

As of this morning, the Yankees have a 5.4% chance of making the postseason according to Baseball Prospectus. Cool Standings is slightly more optimistic at 8.3%. Both systems give the team a less than 1.5% chance of winning the AL East even though the Bombers come into today six back of the both the division lead and second wildcard spot in the loss column. Is it possible New York’s odds of winning the division are better than they are for winning a wildcard spot?

Yesterday I quickly broke down the schedule of the seven teams currently in the mix for the second wildcard spot. The Yankees are at a disadvantage not only because they’re the furthest back, but also because they only have seven games left against their six wildcard competitors. This late in the year, those head-to-head meetings are crucial. It’s the only chance you get to control what you and your opponent do.

Because four of the six teams the Yankees are competing with for that second wildcard spot come from the AL Central or AL West, they’re going to need a lot of outside help to get into the postseason. They’ll need the Mariners and Angels to beat the Rangers and Athletics, the White Sox and Twins to beat the Indians and Royals, stuff like that. That’s not good; counting on other teams to do your dirty work is not where you want to be heading into September.

The AL East race is much different, however. As usual, the last few weeks of the season are heavy on intra-division games, and the Yankees will play 21 of their final 39 games against the three teams ahead of them in the AL East. That’s seven games against the Red Sox, seven against the Orioles, and seven against the Rays. Furthermore, those three clubs play a bunch of games against each other down the stretch, guaranteeing one will lose (loose?) on a given night.

The Yankees have much more control over what happens down the stretch in the division than they do the wildcard race thanks to those 21 games against Boston, Tampa, and Baltimore. They still need help, don’t get me wrong, but at least now less lies in the hands of other teams. The downside is that the three AL East teams are probably better and tougher matchups than the other wildcard contenders, but that’s life. No one ever said digging out of this hole would be easy.

Because of how the system works, the Yankees would almost certainly climb into a wildcard spot before taking the lead in the AL East. That’s just the way it’s set up. The only way that doesn’t happen is if the various AL East teams simultaneously hit slumps while other clubs, say the Athletics and Indians, get hot and finish with better records. Possible but unlikely. The Yankees will be happy to get into the postseason either way at this point, but all those head-to-head meetings say that, no matter how unlikely, we shouldn’t rule out a division title just yet.

Categories : Playoffs


  1. Darren says:

    If the Yanks are gonna make it to the post season, they have to get on a real hot streak, it’s as simple as that. The Sox will have to fall down to earth a little bit too.

    I mean, it just boild down to winning. It’s not like the NFL where the final two weekends are filled with permutations. 40 games left, we need to pull a 8-2, 15-4, 20-7, some kind of streaks like that.

    We are a different team offensively now, but if CC continues to fall apart, it’s hard to see how we can do it. His remaining 8 starts are gonna be crucial.

    • YanksFan says:

      It’s not like Boston doesn’t know how to fold at all :)

      I don’t love their chances but they have a shot, which is what I’ve been saying all season.

      • Marcus says:

        Can you imagine a more entertaining scenario than “Yankees Claim Division on A-Rod’s Back; Red Sox Blow Another Late Season Lead”

        Then A-Rod goes on a hot streak in the playoffs. Yankees win World Series. A-Rod has an MVP-worthy Series, but voters select Mo as MVP out of sentimentality/as a blow to A-Rod.

        This is my dream.

  2. JLC 776 says:

    Fuck yeah, it can happen:

    Improbable? Yes. Impossible? Not even close. There have been some great comebacks in just the last several years and the Yankees are better retooled with injury returns than almost any of them.

  3. Mike HC says:

    I think the Yanks are 7.5 back of the division lead and 6 for the wildcard.

    Either way, the team is playing much better and is exciting to watch.

  4. Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

    Is Mike down off the ledge he’s been on all year? Will all the irritating doomsayer trolls revolt against him now that there are hints of optimism? Will the polyannas again be accused of parroting everything Axisa says?

    Find out this week on RAB!

  5. Eddard says:

    Just yesterday you said they were relegated to playing spoiler, today the division title isn’t off the table. I think they can make the postseason but they need at least one of CC or Hughes to give them decent starts. Hughes is an automatic loss, CC isn’t too far from being at that level.

    A 41 year old is out pitching two guys who are supposed to be in their primes. They need to keep winning series, starting with taking at least 3/4 from the Jays. Hughes and a spot starter are pitching in the series so they’ll need to score a lot of runs.

  6. I'm One says:

    This is why MLB put the 2nd wild card in. There are still 6 teams in the AL and 3 in the NL battleing for those wild car spots, plus the division leaders making it 15 teams (half the league) with a chance at making the playoffs. Keeps us all hoping and watching.

    As for the Yankees, it’s obvious they need to win the vast majority of the games against their division rivals and the other playoff contenders. Definitely need CC to find something and Pettitte to pitch like he did last time out, with continued solid performacnces from Kuroda and Nova. And if Hughes can come up with a few good starts ….

    It’s a steep hill, one the Yankees haven’t had to climb in a while. I hope they’re up to it.

  7. Mike W says:

    If the Red Sox go .500 rest of way Yanks will need to win at .673 to win div or 33 wins to Sox 23 as Yanks are 9 back in win column. Yanks also have to pass TB and Balt, so while it’s not off the table , it’s clearly only for those still drinking the koolade..

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

      What is koolade?

    • John S. says:

      Red Sox are currently at 73-53.
      Yankees are currently at 64-59.

      If the Red Sox go .500 the rest of the way they would be at 91-71 (36 gmaes left so 18-18). For the Yankees to tie they would need to go 27-12(.692) in their remaining 39 games. Obviously its improbable but not impossible. Hey they’ve won 7 out of the last 10. So 4 more stretches like that and mission accomplished! Yes I’m omptimistic, but aren’t most fans?

      • Austin's Bat says:

        That’s the beauty of head to head games. If NY goes 6-1 against the Sox, then Boston needs to be 17-12 the rest of the way to get to 91, while the Yankees would nee to be 21-11. Not insurmountable IF you dominate those games.

    • Lukaszek says:

      Jonestown reference, really man?

  8. MannyGeee says:

    Yeah, I think its gonna take a LOT of doing, but not at all impossible to see them sneak in to a Division win. We are already seeing the Sox fall back to earth since the ASB, and 7 games with 50 to go is certainly attainable.

    Also, this team remembered how to hit balls, and hard and far… I shudder to say it, but we may only be one good CC away from making a run on the home stretch…

  9. Kramerica Industries says:

    They really torpedoed their chance at the sweep with some idiotic play on Saturday. That would’ve really laid into that 7.5 deficit.

  10. Al says:

    This morning on the today show major-league baseball knowing that Alex Rodriguez’s lawyer was going to be on the show purposely sent documentation to Matt Lauer in an effort to sandbag Alex Rodriguez’s lawyer purposely. Look for tomorrow when major-league baseball resumes in Yankees stadium and the media will be present ,look for something to come out from Alex Rodriguez’s lawyer escalating the nuclear war. this time possibly going after the head of the snake of major-league baseball!

  11. Al says:

    Now in reference to yesterday’s Red Sox Yankees game with Alex Rodriguez being hit it put Alex Rodriguez into a absolute no-win situation number one he could not go after Ryan Dempster start a fight major-league baseball would’ve loved giving them ammunition to suspend .number two if a player from the The Yankees retaliating and hitting the Red Sox batter that player picture would have gotten 6+ games for more if they had brought in a minor-league out of the pen as Curt Schilling stated adding fuel to the fire it would’ve been a bigger suspension due to the fact that the player the acting manager and possibly anybody else being suspended .that said the next game when the Yankees face the Red Sox the Yankees have to hit two with their players right off the bat have to. Major-league baseball has rules and regulations for situations like this but more important there are unwritten rules in baseball that supersedes this especially on a national stage

    • sjferrari says:

      The Yankees and A-Rod got the best revenge they could get on Dempster and the Red Sox for that plunking: they won the damn game and A-Rod got a home run off of Dempster his next at bat.

      Keep the bean balls away from the next series. Just win. Best revenge possible.

  12. bjn says:

    One can only dream of the Yanks beating out the Sox for the division by one game. With visions of hitting Arod dancing in Dempster’s head.

  13. Caballo Sin Nombre says:

    It isn’t all that complicated. If they win 92 games, they are probably in. If they win less, they are probably out. If they win 93, they stand a reasonable chance of winning the division as well. You can go over all the scenarios you want, but most of the likely ones are going to lead to the above. Yankees need to play better than .700 ball, close to .750 ball, the rest of the way.

    • mitch says:

      Agreed. I think 28-11 to close out the season is what it will take to get them into the playoffs. Definitely doable, but if they hit one more rough patch the season is over.

  14. Frank says:

    Ain’t happening.

  15. David Ortiz's Dealer says:

    6 back with 6 weeks, making up a game a week, is doable. Looking at this from the it can happen perspective, I think the pitching can get batter, CC / Andy can string together better starts, if you only pitch Hughes on the road. Soriano wont stay this hot, but the offense is better and will continue to be better than the May / June version.

    Am I the only one old enough to remember 78? 14 back in August. This is like being given a head start.

    • This team is not 1978 or 1949, for those of you too young to remember. No Dimaggio or Jackson. And the ace Sabathia does not look at all like Guidry or Reynolds.

      • JLC 776 says:

        Why not? Because you say so?

      • Winter says:

        But we have Cano, who’s already put up more WAR than either of those players did in the years you mentioned. And we might not have ace Sabathia this year, but we sure as hell have ace Kuroda.

      • I'm a looser baby, so why don't you kill me? (Formerly not the droids you're looking for...) says:

        Perhaps you’ve forgotten about the return of the CentWAR…and the fact that Nova and Kuroda have been a pretty formidable 1-2 for quite a while now.

      • Kramerica Industries says:

        And? The ’78 and ’49 Red Sox were better than the ’13 Red Sox (and ’13 Rays), too.

        All that matters is what happens going forward. If the Yankees continue to play solid ball over the last 39, they’ll have a decent chance. That’s all that matters.

      • JLC 776 says:

        hmm… lost a comment for some reason.

        Anyway, the ’78 Yankees are a perfect example of why the ’13 Yankees can do it. The 1978 team was in shambles at the ASB. 5 out of 9 position players were barely league average at best with 3 out of 5 starting pitchers basically looking like back-end arms. There were a lot of very memorable names that live in Yankee lore, but they weren’t superhuman. And lets face it, we’ve got a couple of pretty decent names playing today as well.

        Just saying “this isn’t the 1978 team” because we don’t have [insert name here] is rather facepalm inducing.

        • Kosmo says:

          And yes Guidry was superhuman that year. Arguably the greatest single season of any Yankee pitcher. That team won 100 games.

          Oddly enough the 1978 Yanks were precisely 7.5 games back of the Red Sawx on August 19th.

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

            Oh crap, it IS 1978!

          • JLC 776 says:

            And still 7.5 games back on August 30th as well! We all get so focused on 14 games back in July that we forget that they literally fell back half a game during the month of August despite playing amazing baseball(6.5 back to 7.0 back).

            Shit, if the ’13 Yankees can close to 5.5 back by September, this will be a cake walk!

          • Improbable Island's Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR) says:

            Kuroda is putting together a pretty good Guidry interpretation, and we also have Cano. As was said, there’s a slim, outside shot.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

        Where were you preseason when everyone was bringing up the team in the 60′s that lost 400 games?

        Of course it’s not 1978. Or 1949. Or any other year. That has no bearing on whether we can come back or not.

  16. trr says:

    look, you fight to the end. is it likely to happen? not very, but that’s beside the point. You play every game to win. If we somehow make it, I’ll be thrilled. If not, I’m still OK.

    Just play. Hard.

  17. stuart a says:

    they need to win 5 of next 7.. the saturday f up, with the bad call at 3rd did not help.

    as aroid said they need to score 5 runs per game almost every game to have a chance….

  18. I'm a looser baby, so why don't you kill me? (Formerly not the droids you're looking for...) says:

    My likely new handle.

  19. hey now says:

    I’d feel much better about their chances if CC and PH weren’t making 40% of the starts the rest of the way.

    I understand CC is getting his starts no matter what, but if they were serious about making a run at it they wouldn’t let Phil start another game.

    Of course, with the shit luck they’ve had with injuries to viable replacement starters, there isn’t a damn thing they can do about it at this point. Pineda, Phelps and Nuno all going down has really left them hamstrung.

  20. OldYanksFan says:

    Here’s what I see:

    Cleveland has an easy schedule, playing 23 games against teams under .500 (Mets, Minn, WSox, LAA and Houston)

    KC also has an easy schedule, playing 23 games against teams under .500… although 6 of those are against the Nationals and Seattle, and none against Houston.

    Oakland also has an easy schedule, playing 23 games against teams under .500… including their last 13!

    Baltimore has 10 games against teams under .500 (4 w/WSox, 6/BJs),
    and have 9/RSox, 7/Yanks and 6/TB

    TB has 10 games against teams under .500 (LAA, Seattle, Toronto, Minn)

    We have 16 games against teams under .500 (3/Houston, 3/SF, 10/BJs)

    My take:
    We will have to play our asses off and hope TB Plays .500 ball or worse.

    It’s a serious longshot.
    I really think we need to go 28 W/11 L to be in this thing

    • mitch says:

      I think you’re spot on. The key is to pass TB and/or BOS. I’m not worried about the easy schedules of CLE/KC. Those teams aren’t that good, and if the Yankees play well they’ll pass them regardless of scheduling. OAK and TEX are probably both making the playoffs.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

      Lets just win everything. No more losses. 39-0.

  21. Rolling Doughnut says:

    It doesn’t take a baseball sage to figure out that if CC doesn’t get right, they’re not going to make it. They need 4 solid starts every time through the rotation from here on out.

  22. Frank Costanza says:

    It’s not the fat lady we need to worry about. It’s the fat man. If CC doesn’t start pitching like an average starting pitcher at the very least, there’s no way the division is within reach.

  23. Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

    CC pitching poorly with this offense >>>>>>>>> CC pitching poorly with the offense BS(before soriano).

  24. Kosmo says:

    out of the next 20 games NY plays 14 of them at home. The teams they play are all within the AL east except for 3 vs. the Pale Hose and one has to think it will be payback time vs the WS. Winning each series would put them at 14-6 for those 20. The next six games after that are probably going to be the biggest hurdle 3 each vs. Baltimore and Boston on the road.

  25. mike_h says:

    +1 with everything posted

    Hahahaha I lol’d at the lose (loose?) part. Stupid Boston kids

  26. Wayne says:

    We can not win the división with put cc pitching well. I just think his body won’t get use to pitching at that weight for a while. But if he can keep the weight off his body will eventually get use to pitching at that weight! He probably has done alot of calorie burning exercises but needs to keep lifting weights so his body can handle any loss of mass And keep muscle on him. CC keep putting in the work to keep your weight off and eventually it will come together for you bro. It is not easy but you have to be patient. Obviously eating healthy and staying away from drugs ,alcohol and smoking and keeping fiber in his diet and eating normal portions of lean meat and carbs plus drinking alot of water will help him alot. He is also probably doing alot of a particular exrecises which are causing him to lose alot of weight. Basically you do alot of go down and put your body in a pushup position where you put hands on the floor then extend legs then pull your legs Towards you and get get back up again. That burns alot of calories don’t know what the exercise is called thats why i describe it. He might have focused so much on burning calories that he needs to lift weights more to combat that weight loss that was alot in such a small amount of time.

  27. JFH says:

    “So you’re saying there’s a chance….”

  28. JGYank says:

    All we have to do is look at the Dodgers. They were struggling but then got guys back from the DL and took off (sound familiar?). What are they like 42-9 in their last 51 games? That’s insane. Now they’re in first running away with their division. We need about 91-93 wins, so we need to go 28-11 or something like that which compared to what LA did is nothing. So it can be done. It just sucks that we play in the toughest division and are at a huge disadvantage because of it.

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