There is a good chance, about a 90% chance at that, that the Yankees’ season ends incredibly soon. After falling behind two games to the seemingly unstoppable Cleveland Indians, winter may be upon us.
What makes this even more painful is that Game Two of the ALDS will likely sit in the back of Yankees fans minds for a long time. Even more unfortunately, it’s going to color how we view the season. It was a microcosm of the mess of a job Joe Girardi has done managing the sprawling bullpen, and how they just couldn’t come up with the big hit in a one-run game. While the Wild Card Game may have emphasized their strengths, Game Two highlighted all of their weaknesses.
It shouldn’t change our perception of the season, though, and here’s why. The Yankees were not supposed to be in the ALDS, let alone win over 90 games. Aaron Judge was not supposed to be a top MVP candidate, nor was Luis Severino supposed to be a legitimate Cy Young candidate. Chad Green wasn’t supposed to be a bullpen weapon, and Greg Bird wasn’t supposed to recover and contribute in time for the postseason.
In essence that’s all that truly matters, that they have a solid base underneath them. If they were to lose that Game Two as most of their core leaves for free agency or because of impending old age, one could see it as a huge blown opportunity. I think that’s how a lot of people felt about 2012, and even 2015 to an extent. The teams at the end of the last Yankees dynasty always had the expectation of winning the World Series, not only because they were in fact great teams, but also because their age made them always seem a year away from a tear down.
Now, that isn’t the case. Changes are certainly coming, of course. Gleyber Torres is on the way, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka could be potentially on their way out, and Clint Frazier will likely continue his ascendence. Bird will hopefully get a full season along with Judge and Sanchez, making a lineup that could be even more formidable than the last.
This means they could definitely use one more bat. A starter or two would very much help during a time like this, as well. Brian Cashman assembled the bullpen he wanted, but it loses its effectiveness to an extent when you need so many innings out of them. That’s to say improvements are possible.
This was a rebuilding year, and it should really be thought like that. The lost opportunities at the division and during the playoffs are always going to change one’s perception, but if thought of as just a year building up to another, it’s not as negative. This is going to be a huge learning experience for these younger players who will likely get another crack at the postseason. This isn’t going to be the last time the Baby Bombers get to make a run, and my guess is they will seize the next one. Hey, they still have a chance to do it tonight.