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The Yankees have their work cut out for them

The Bombers sit atop the division, but they can’t coast through the All-Star break.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

After finishing off the Red Sox to clinch their eighth straight series win—and 13 of the last 14—the Yankees really could hardly be in a better position. They jumped into first place and have reinforcements headed their way in the next few weeks. The Yankees can’t rest on their laurels and hope for smooth sailing heading into the All-Star break, though. Here’s a look at some of the key matchups, biggest games, and hardest tests before the first half closes out.

The Subway Series

In the next month, the Yankees and Mets will face off for their annual Subway Series. The games will take place a pair of two-game series, from June 10-11 and July 2-3. While the Mets are not among the best teams in baseball so far, these are games that could go either way. The Mets are a competitive team, and with the clashing fans from Queens and the Bronx, there’s no telling who may come out on top.

These games also offer some headlines that one may not have predicted back in March. It won’t be Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard, but youngster Pete Alonso leading the charge. Representing the Bronx will be DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela instead of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. By the All-Star break we’ll see who claimed victory to New York’s bragging rights.

London Calling

For the first time ever, Major League Baseball heads to London to feature the sport and its best rivalry. The Yankees and Red Sox will face off in a two-game, prime-time series with Boston having home-field advantage. Now, ignoring all the theatrics, this could prove quite the meaningful series. If Boston goes on a run and claws back into the division race, these hyped-up games suddenly have high stakes. It will certainly be interesting to see how focused each team is across the pond.

A series against Cleveland

For the Yankees’ next game on Sunday Night Baseball, they’ll face the struggling Indians. Jose Ramirez, a former MVP candidate, has essentially turned into a black hole 65 wRC+. While Cleveland isn’t the world-beating squad we’ve seen over the past few years, this series still makes for a good test. A pitching matchup between Shane Bieber and James Paxton could also make for a fun time.

Round two with the Astros

This will undoubtedly be the Bombers’ biggest test of the first half. So far, the Astros and Yankees have established themselves as two of the best teams in the American League. Houston did sweep New York back in early April, but now that both teams are more established, this will offer a better gauge as to who is the better club at this point.

This series, stretching from June 20-23, will hopefully feature some of the best talent in all of baseball, health permitting of course. Houston’s lineup includes George Springer, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Carlos Correa. The Yankees field a starting nine that may be just as daunting, offering players like Gary Sanchez, DJ LeMahieu, Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, and Gleyber Torres. Don’t forget potential returns from Didi Gregorius and Giancarlo Stanton, either. In terms of pitching, you may see the likes of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Domingo German, and Masahiro Tanaka.

Another test with the Rays

The Yankees and Rays will play seven times before the All-Star break, but we’ll pay close attention to the series from July 4-7. Unless things change drastically, these two teams figure to be neck-and-neck as the first half winds down. As of recent, the Yankees have extended their division lead to 3.5 games over the Rays, however, with seven matchups in the near future, a lot can change. A long series like this can do so much for either team mentally going into the second half. Think about the possibility of a sweep for one team, or getting swept for the other; this series will set the tone heading into the second half.