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How the Yankees could fight their way into the playoffs

The Yankees play a lot of games against the AL East during the rest of the season and will have plenty of chances to make up ground against the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Orioles

MLB: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Angels Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Just a few weeks ago, I would have laughed if anyone had told me that this Yankees team stood a chance to make the playoffs. Yet here they are, not completely out of the hunt for a Wild Card spot. Granted, this Yankees team is now entirely different from the one that existed prior to the trade deadline.

The Yankees not only dismantled the three-headed monster that was the back end of the bullpen by shipping off Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, but they also traded away Carlos Beltran, their best hitter. In a somewhat surprising move, the Yankees turned to the youngsters and called up Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Tyler Austin in the hopes of re-energizing the offense, and so far it has worked. As of Saturday, the Yankees have scored 91 runs in the month of August (compared to 97 total in July), and have an 11-7 record. This was not expected when the Yankees opted to sell at the deadline, but they could still fight their way into the playoffs.

Unfortunately, the Yankees’ schedule over the rest of the season is not the easiest. The Yankees have 40 games left to play, and 23 of those games are against the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Orioles. As things currently stand, the Blue Jays are in first place in the AL East, but Red Sox and Orioles only trail by .5 games and 2.5 games, respectively. Aside from the fact that the Tigers and Mariners are currently ahead of the Yankees, the Yankees will need to overtake at least one of those three teams in the division to even have a chance at the second Wild Card spot. The good news is that they will have plenty of opportunities to do so as the season winds down. However, they have an awful 3-9 record against the Blue Jays, are 5-7 against the Red Sox, and are 5-5 against the Orioles.

While the Yankees’ offense has made improvements over the past few weeks, the rotation has turned into one of the weakest parts of this team. Masahiro Tanaka is pitching really well, but apart from him the rotation has been shaky. Just last week, the Yankees lost Nathan Eovaldi to Tommy John surgery. CC Sabathia was great in the early part of the season but has regressed back to the Sabathia of the past few years. Michael Pineda has been hit or miss (and mostly miss) all season, and just isn’t reliable.

After trading away Ivan Nova, the Yankees tried to give a rotation spot to Luis Severino, but really had no choice but to send him back to Triple-A after he gave up 12 runs over two starts. Now they have penciled Chad Green and Luis Cessa into the rotation, and both had great performances this week. They will need to keep up the good work if the Yankees plan on improving their records against Baltimore, Boston, and Toronto. It could even come down to the wire, since the Yankees end the season playing the Red Sox and the Orioles.

Right now the Yankees are just four games back in the hunt for the second Wild Card, and they just might reach the postseason if the offense stays hot and the rotation finds a way to improve. It won’t be easy to make up ground in the standings, but it certainly is possible. Fingers crossed for a sweep against the Angels today as it would be great momentum heading into this next series against the Mariners.