A Realistic Look at the New York Yankees and the 2018 Playoffs

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Santon
Aug 8, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) runs the bases after hitting a grand slam home run against the Chicago White Sox during the second inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

It’s quite incredible isn’t it? The New York Yankees have the second best record in the American League, but find themselves in the first wild-card spot because the Red Sox not only hold the best record in baseball, they also hold an incredible 9.5 game lead in the AL East. With 45 games remaining in the Yankees season, including 6 against the Red Sox, it’s time for a realistic look at the Yankees and their 2018 Playoff picture.

Part One: The New York Yankees need to beat the Red Sox Head-to-Head

It sounds incredibly simple, because it is. The Yankees have a 9.5 game deficit to make up, and the easiest way to start doing that is beat the team ahead of you.

The Yankees have 6 games remaining against Boston, 3 at home and then 3 at Fenway to end the season. Winning all three at Yankee Stadium September 18-20 will do wonders for the Yankees and their hopes of avoiding the Wild Card game.

Part Two: Beat AL East opponents

One of the key reasons the gap between the Yankees and the Red Sox is so substantial is the Red Sox put away teams in their division, while the Yankees seem to struggle and falter, especially away from home. Not including games against the Red Sox, the Yankees are 21-16 against other AL East teams, whereas the Red Sox are 33-10 against those same opponents.

Heading towards the end of the season,  the Yankees have six more series against these other AL East teams, and the Yankees must sweep or only drop one game in all of these series.

Part Three: Hope the Red Sox Lose

The Yankees need massive help from the Red Sox towards the end of the season to have a shot at the division. The strength of schedule may help the Yankees in this regard.

The Red Sox remaining SOS sits at .519, one of the top-5 toughest schedules to end the year. The Yankees SOS sits at .472, one of the easiest schedules to end the season in the MLB. This is the most favorable thing for the Yankees: the Red Sox will have more opportunities to drop games, and the yankees must capitalize.

This is not the optimal situation for the New York Yankees. Yet it is not impossible. In a division as wild and unpredictable as the AL East, don’t be surprised if the Yankees pull themselves back in to contention, and the division comes down to a three-game set at Fenway to end the season.