The New York Yankees are sitting at 90-55 with the second best record in baseball. While this season has been an impressive one for the Yanks, there seems to be more desired from fans that have been critical of the team as of late.
This could be a combination of things from criticism of rookie manager Aaron Boone, very pedestrian second half performance, and underwhelming seasons from certain players. All of that however is glorified due to the fact they are playing in the same division as the Boston Red Sox who are putting together one of the best regular seasons ever and are on pace for 110 wins.
With 17 games to go and a 9-game deficit in the AL East, it seems all by inevitable that the Yankees will be playing in the AL Wild Card game and has their fate decided in a 1-game playoff as they did last season.
A big question for the Yanks over this second half of the season has become, who will start that potential season-deciding game for them?
At the halfway point of this season this question would seem like a no-brainer with All-Star pitcher and Cy Young candidate at the time, Louis Severino.
Severino was 14-2 with a 2.31 ERA and 144 SO going into the break but has struggled greatly ever since. In the second half, Severino has been completely different with a 3-5 record, a 6.95 ERA and opponents batting .318 against him.
It’s clear that Severino has been struggling and some can pin it on his tremendous workload in terms of innings pitched but nevertheless the Yankees ace is no longer a guaranteed answer for a one game do or die. Deeper into the rotation other potential answers for this question have emerged with veteran pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and newly acquired lefty J.A. Happ.
Both of these two have had some great moments in the second half of the season and have been pitching very well as of late. Tanaka has bolstered a 2-2 record with a 2.12 ERA in his last 5 starts, along with going 7+ innings in his last three starts.
Tanaka has also been somewhat of a mark of consistency throughout the season seeming to always be a reliable option for the Yanks every 5 th day. J.A. Happ on the other hand is coming on as a very strong potential candidate for the Yanks, as well as a popular one.
Since joining the Yanks, Happ has made 8 starts for the team. He has posted a 6-0 record, 2.70 ERA, 43 SO, and a .220 BAA in those starts. The team is also 7-1 in games started by Happ. This is an extremely impressive stretch for a guy coming into the toughest place to play in all of baseball and an undeniably strong case for him to be the Wild Card game starter.
While rookie manager will have a tough decision to make if and when that day arrives in which the Yankees have to play a one-game win-or- go-home playoff, there will be options on the table for him. Even beyond the guys mentioned, veteran C.C. Sabathia who has some of the most playoff pitching experience in all of Major League Baseball is another viable option for the team.
Above all else the Yankees #1 priority going into the playoffs should be health and consistency on the field. With Didi Gregorious and Gary Sanchez returning to the lineup and Aaron Judge on the way behind them, the Yanks can be set up to make another playoff run in 2018 if they play their cards correctly.