Now that it is almost a surety that the New York Yankees will be taking part in the postseason, its time to look at how the Yankees will make their way through the postseason. With only eight games left to play, in this coronavirus season, the Yankees are on their longest winning streak since last season. Tonight, in Boston, the Yankees will go after their 10th win in a row. The Yankees have had an up and down season this year. The pitching hasn’t always been great, and at times, the Yankees offense has been nowhere to be found. But in the last ten days, the Yankee turnaround has been near historic. The pitching has been good, the bullpen has been good, and most surprising is, the batting has come alive with all players healthy. You could say in the Blue Jays series that it replicated “murderer’s row,” scoring 43 runs in just three games.
The present New York Yankees are positioning themselves to navigate the postseason and possibly win a 28th World Championship for their fans waiting since 20019 for another World Series win. The Yankees front office took a big step in the offseason to give themselves a chance to do that. They went out and got the best pitcher on the market, in Gerrit Cole. According to who you talk too, he is one of the top three pitchers in baseball. Many say he is the best. In the twists and turns of this crazy coronavirus season, a postseason formula was developed including an expansion that would have 16 teams qualify for the postseason. They also changed the one-game wild-card game into a format that will consist of eight teams from each league, seeded in the following order: division winners by record (1-3), runner-up teams by record (4-6), and the two best teams remaining (7-8). All games in this format will be best of three and will be played at the home ballparks of the higher seeds. Positioning will be determined by winning percentage, not the number of games won.
In the next round, the Divisional Series that will be played in “bubbles,” it will be the best of five series. This will allow Yankee ace Gerrit Cole to start two games in the Division Series (although on short rest), Championship Series, and the World Series. This is a tremendous plus for the Yankees as Cole traditionally gets better as the season progresses and pitched very well in the postseason last year. The Yankees got a blow when James Paxton went down with a flexor strain, then he reinjured it, making it unlikely that he will be ready to pitch in the postseason, as of today, he isn’t even thrown from flat ground. But on August 30th, pitching sensation prospect Deivi Garcia make his major league debut, replacing Paxton. He now has pitched in four games. The Yankees won three of them, with Garcia registering a 3.28 ERA with six strikeouts per game.
Masahiro Tanaka has been inconsistent this year, although he has pitched his best in his last few games. But, the entry of Deivi Garcia into the picture is interesting. If the Yankees win Deivi Garcia’s final two starts of the season, one against the Red Sox and one against the Miami Marlins, the Yankees may be hard-pressed not to have Garcia be the number two starter in the postseason. Over their last ten games before last night, Yankees starters have a 2.18 ERA.
In a typical season, the Yankee bullpen would be set up to come in after five innings and close down games, however this year, without days off during the different series, that may not be possible. The Yankees bullpen of Adam Ottavino, Chad Green, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees premier relievers, will not pitch several days in a row. The Yankees may use Jonathan Loaisiga and Jonathan Holder to relieve some of that strain. But one thing for sure is Cole and Garcia’s ability to go deep into games will be a definite plus for the Yankees.
Long time-respected bullpen coach Mike Harkey spoke to the starting pitching and the bullpen.
“It’s definitely going to be tricky, I think it’s somewhere where you’re obviously going to see teams that have deeper starting pitching that are probably gonna benefit from it more. We’re hoping with the addition of Cole that will clean some things up for us and hopefully give us a chance to get the kind of rest needed for relievers to win a World Series.”
On this past Tuesday, New York Yankee manager Aaron Boone weighed in on what the postseason pitching would resemble.
“It’s gonna be hard because when you’re talking about starting pitching,” Boone said Tuesday. “We’re gonna make sure Gerrit Cole and Masa are eligible to pitch in that first round no matter what. That may compromise what we’re able to do that final weekend of the season. We’re gonna try as best we can to strike that balance and try and win as many games as we can, but it’s about getting into the dance (postseason), too.”
As far as the offensive situation, the Yankees are set up the best they have been during the entire 2020 season. If you watched last night’s Yankee Red Sox game, you saw what will likely be the lineup that will be used for the postseason. The Yankees have not had their desired lineup for most of the year, due to a number of injuries. The “machine” DJ LeMahieu will likely lead off for the Yankees throughout the postseason. Aaron Judge will start in his traditonal second second spot in the lineup. Giancarlo Stanton and the AL home run leader Luke Voit. Some games could possibly include Aaron Hicks. Rounding out the Yankee lineup will be Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, Gary Sanchez and Clint Frazier holding down the 9th spot. In some games, the lineup might be shook up due to matchups.
If the New York Yankees winning ways continue, they will go into the postseason, with the ability to navigate the postseason, pitching and hitting better than they have in the last several seasons. To win a World Series all parts of the game, from pitching, to hitting, to defense, all have to be operating on all cylinders.