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Four things that need to happen for the Yankees to win the World Series

Winning it all requires a lot of things coming together. Here’s what needs to fall into place for the Yanks to get their 28th.

Miami Marlins v New York Yankees Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The Yankees are getting set to begin their quest for a 28th World Series title, and this postseason will be unlike any other, starting with a three-game series with so much parity potential.

But if the Yanks can get out of the Wild Card Series, they will be among the favorites to reach the World Series and have a chance for their first championship in over a decade. But as we’ve seen with this team in 2020, the outlook can change quickly. Will we see the Yankees team that got off to a historic start when the season began, or the one that struggled badly while trying to secure second place in the division down the stretch? If this team is to win it all, these critical components will likely come into play.

The big bats start swinging like it’s late July/early August

Yankees fans salivated at the thought of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton batting back-to-back after the Yanks traded for Stanton prior to the 2018 season, but health issues for both players have limited that luxury. We saw it at the beginning of this season, though, and boy, it did not disappoint. Before Judge went down on August 11, he was slugging .758 and playing like it was 2017. Meanwhile, Stanton had an OPS of 1.038 through the first 14 games before he also went down with an injury. Both have struggled since returning, with Judge posting a .543 OPS and Stanton .700, but they will be crucial middle-of-the-order bats that have to find their groove again in October, or else the offense will look much like it did in the final week of the season, struggling to find big blows in the form of home runs.

The infield defense avoids breakdowns in crucial spots

The defense has been tough to watch this season, especially of late. The Yankees entered the season’s final day with the most errors in all of baseball, and went through a span of 19 errors in 16 games. Gleyber Torres has to be better at shortstop, and while Luke Voit’s defense has improved at first base, he’s still well below average. It’s frightening to picture a late-and-close game with a grounder-heavy reliever like Zack Britton on the mound, especially with how the infield has been performing of late. If the defense can, in the words of Aaron Boone, “tighten this sh*t up,” the Yanks would be in much better shape.

Adam Ottavino steps it up

Ottavino has been struggling since the stretch run of last year’s regular season, and dropped down the bullpen totem pole in the postseason, and he doesn’t enter this year’s playoffs with a much better outlook. Yes, he’s walking fewer batters, but he’s also allowing a hard-hit rate of 50 percent, one of the worst marks in the league, and his swing-and-miss rate of 26.5 percent is the lowest of his career. With Tommy Kahnle out for the season, Ottavino is an important piece of the Yankee bullpen, and he simply has to start missing bats to avoid an untimely implosion. Of course, it will be interesting to see just how Boone uses him given his struggles this year.

J.A. Happ stays hot

The first two starts of Happ’s season gave the impression that it would be another frustrating year for the veteran lefty, but ever since, he’s been consistently missing bats and becoming the clear-cut game three starter, pithing to a 2.34 ERA in the final seven starts of his regular season. It’s tough to predict how Deivi García will perform in October, and the Yanks will need a reliable third arm outside of Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka to win a playoff series. Happ can be that third option, as long as he avoids the occasional home-run parties that he’s been known to host at times in his Yankee career. Game three of a three-game series would obviously be of the utmost importance, meaning Happ could wind up becoming one of the most vital pieces to a World Series run.