As of this morning, Baseball Prospectus lists the Yankees odds of making the postseason at 10.5%. Cool Standings is slightly more optimistic at 16.4%. Obviously, neither of these sites spark very much confidence. And yet, it feels like the postseason isn’t just doable, but realistic if the Yankees play some quality baseball for the remainder of the month. Right?
Maybe it’s just that we’re accustomed to big moments in New York, or desperate for another playoff berth. Or, perhaps, as fans, we’re just not quite ready to concede until the postseason is no longer mathematically feasible. After all, these are the Yankees. When I speak with my father, he’s very matter-of-fact about it. He reminds me that the Yanks are only 2.5 games out with 24 to play. One legitimate hot streak, or one slump by a divisional rival, gets it done. I think there’s something to be said for his sentiments too.
Regardless of the odds or one’s blind faith in incredible outcomes, the fact still remains, New York needs to win games in a big way and they’ll probably need some help from their competition as well. Let’s take a look at how the final eight series are scheduled to play out for each team that could potentially grab that second sacred Wild Card spot.
The Rangers and Athletics are in an extremely tight race. One of the teams will get in no matter what. The other will still have a very good opportunity to participate in October baseball. Unfortunately for the Yankees, both the Rangers and the A’s have fairly favorable schedules remaining too. Aside from the six games remaining against each other, each of these two clubs have plenty of games left against sub .500 teams (though the Angels have been hot of late and could potentially dampen the mood). Still, if I were a betting man, I’d figure both these teams will be enjoying October baseball.
Frankly, I just don’t envision the Royals or the Indians getting the job done. While both teams are definitely in the playoff hunt, I’d be surprised if it worked out favorably for either of them. Aside from the six games against the Indians remaining, the Royals also have to deal with the Rangers and Tigers. The Indians have a very convenient schedule remaining but haven’t been playing particular well of late (they’ve lost 16 of their last 27 games). Meanwhile, the Tigers will conclude their regular season against a lot of mediocre teams, not to mention the fact that they definitely do have a playoff caliber roster that’s been playing well. You also have to figure Miguel Cabrera will be healthy enough to contribute at his typical pace by the time it counts.
So that leaves the gauntlet that is the American League East. As was expected from moment one, it looks as though the division could come down to the wire. The Rays, Orioles, and Yankees are all fighting desperately for that last gasp of air. Seventeen of the final 24 games for the Yankees are against divisional rivals. Their fate (while statistically improbable) is still absolutely within their own hands. Of course, the same could be said for their competition. Hell, even though the Sox have a nice healthy lead on the division, 19 of their final 22 games are against divisional rivals (not to mention the two remaining against a formidable Tigers squad).
Needless to say, the road to the playoffs won’t be easy (or even necessarily pretty) for any of the teams involved. I don’t know how this all is going to end. Probability keeps our heads in check and our hopes from getting too lofty, but as we all know, the games aren’t played on paper. I, for one, am preparing for an exciting September.