There are less than two weeks left of regular season baseball, which means that it is time to start looking ahead to the postseason. If the season ended today, the Yankees would play one game against the Astros for the wild card. The winner of the Wild Card game automatically faces the team with the best record for the ALDS. As of today, the Royals have the best record in the American League, with two less losses than the Blue Jays. There's still time for that to change, but it looks like the Yankees would potentially face the Royals in the ALDS, or not at all. The Yankees won four of the six games that they played against the Royals this season, but it's not hard to picture a Yankees-Royals ALDS being decided by a Game 5 nail-biter.
Part of the reason the Yankees fared so well against the Royals back in May is because the Royals' rotation consisted of Jeremy Guthrie, who gave up 11 earned runs in one inning of work, along with Danny Duffy and Chris Young. Prior to the trade deadline, the Royals worked hard to upgrade their rotation, and ultimately added Johnny Cueto. Kris Medlen, who was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, has also joined the rotation. The Royals' rotation isn't unbeatable, though. Cueto's performance has dipped since moving to the AL, and he's sporting a 5.12 ERA and 4.09 FIP through 10 starts with the Royals, while his strikeout numbers have decreased. The Yankees' lineup doesn't have much experience against Medlen, but he's been decent in a shortened season with a 3.51 ERA and 5.9 K/9 through 48.2 IP. Yordano Ventura and Edison Volquez will likely round out the Royals' rotation. The Yankees had no success against Volquez when they faced him earlier in the year, as he held them to just three hits through seven innings. Ventura has one of the Royals' best strikeout rates at 8.5 K/9 and has an ERA of 4.40. Somehow, the Yankees didn't face him in either series that they played earlier in the year, which might not bode well for them.
Advantage: Slight edge to the Yankees, assuming Masahiro Tanaka is healthy
The Royals had one of the best bullpens in baseball last season, and this season has been no different. Greg Holland has been very good as their closer, but hasn't quite been able to replicate his 2014 stats. His K/9 has dropped from 12.99 to 9.87, while his BB/9 has risen from 2.89 to 5.24. In terms of saves, he's gone pretty much toe-to-toe with Andrew Miller, recording 32 saves and only five blown saves. Wade Davis is having a fantastic season with a shiny 0.88 ERA and 10.22 K/9. Meanwhile, Ryan Madson and Kelvin Herrera both have sub-3.00 ERAs. The Yankees' bullpen has been worth more fWAR overall (5.6 compared to 4.7 for the Royals), but some of its key components have faltered lately.
The Royals may have sent the majority of their lineup to the All-Star game, but both teams have performed similarly this season in terms of their triple slash. The Royals' lineup is batting .271/.323/.416, while the Yankees are batting .252/.322/.425 as a team. That's where the comparison ends, though. The Yankees have hit roughly 60 more home runs than the Royals, while the Royals have stolen roughly 40 more bases than the Yankees. Several Royals have had bounce back years, including Kendrys Morales who is leading the team with 21 home runs. Mike Moustakas is having the best season of his career, and Ben Zobrist, Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer are all batting over .300.
All in all, it feels like a Yankees-Royals series would be pretty evenly matched. The Yankees would have to win the Wild Card game in order for this to happen, though. If the Blue Jays somehow manage to finish the season with the highest winning percentage, then the Yankees would skip the Royals altogether.