Whether the Yankees will be attempting to sell or buy at the deadline likely rides on what happens across the upcoming 10 games. But remember this: Coming out of the All-Star break last year, the Yankees led the AL East by 3 ½ games, moved it to seven ...and more »
Make or break dead ahead.
If the Yankees have any chance of being a serious contender for the AL East title, the 10-game homestand that opens Friday against the blood-rival Red Sox has to decidedly go their way.
Three against the Red Sox is followed by four against the AL East-leading Orioles. After that itâ€™s three with the Giants, who lead the NL West with the best record in baseball (57-33).
It can be debated this is the most important Yankees homestand in the past two decades because of what is on the line. A 7-3 ledger provides hope; a 5-5 ledger could lead to more than just Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Beltran being dealt before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
â€œItâ€™s a big homestand. Obviously the way we played the first half, treading water makes this stretch more important for various circumstances like the trade deadline,â€™â€™ general manager Brian Cashman said.
Whether the Yankees will be attempting to sell or buy at the deadline likely rides on what happens across the upcoming 10 games. But remember this: Coming out of the All-Star break last year, the Yankees led the AL East by 3 Â½ games, moved it to seven on July 28 and the only addition made was Dustin Ackley.
Even if they cut into this yearâ€™s deficit there is no guarantee they add.
As far as being sellers or buyers, Cashman said itâ€™s not impossible to be both.
â€œWe are out trying to improve and will be prepared to sell if we have to, depending on the team play and owner directives, as I stated weeks ago,â€™â€™ Cashman said Thursday. â€œMaybe be both buying and selling, who knows. Just win.â€™â€™
Cashman refused to say this was a make-or-break homestand, but there is no other way to look at it from any angle.
â€œWe have to make up ground, and it has to start Friday,â€™â€™ Joe Girardi said after the Yankees provided a sliver of hope by taking three of four from the AL Central-leading Indians in Cleveland before the All-Star break.
Forget the inconsistency of Michael Pineda, who opens the homestand against Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright. Ignore being last among AL teams with a .226 average with runners in scoring position, last in OPS at .657 and last in on-base percentage at .305. Look past the awful bullpen bridge from starters to the Holy Trinity of Smoke.
Instead, recall the 44-44 team that was on display before the break and look at the math. If the Orioles play a game over .500 the rest of the way, they will finish with 89 wins. To match the Oâ€™s, the Yankees would have to go 45-29. At no point this year have the Yankees been 16 games over .500, and there is no guarantee the Orioles are going 38-37 the rest of the way.
Even if the Birds falter, the Red Sox and the defending AL East champion Blue Jays are ahead of the Yankees. If they play .500, the Yankees have to go 43-31 in their remaining 74 games to catch them. Twelve over is also someplace else the Yankees havenâ€™t been, and who says the Red Sox and Blue Jays are going to break even?
Finally, donâ€™t forget the Yankees are 6-15 combined against the Orioles, Red Sox and Blue Jays.
The wild card? The Yankees enter Friday nightâ€™s action 5 Â½ lengths out, with six clubs ahead of them for the second ticket to the one-game deal.
Should the Yankees not get into the postseason, it would be the fourth straight year they havenâ€™t participated in an October series. That will send them into an offseason with Cashman and Girardi each having one year remaining on their respective contracts and possibly facing lame-duck status when the 2017 season opens.
Make or break indeed.
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