The Yankees were supposed to be on the outside of the playoff picture at the beginning of the season and they now have a magic number of 17 to clinch a trip to the 2017 MLB Playoffs as a Wild Card team.
Where the Yankees Stand Now
The Yankees have a bigger goal in mind, especially being only 3.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the American League East. As it stands right now, the Yankees have a 9.8% chance to win the division according to Fangraphs while having an 86.1% chance at being the Wild Card come October.
New York is currently on the tail end of a nine-game road trip where they have gone 4-2, taking two out of three against the Baltimore Orioles and then the Texas Rangers. During this stretch, they have outscored their opponents 46-31 so their offense has been hot. The rotation has fine overall potential despite poor starts from Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and rookie Jordan Montgomery.
Looking Ahead at the Bombers final 20 Games
The Bombers have a big series against the Tampa Bay Rays that is being played at Citifield due to Hurricane Irma hitting Florida. It's fair to assume that this series is going to be a huge advantage to the Yankees considering that they are playing in New York. Despite not being the home team, expect Citifield to be primarily filled with Yankee fans giving them an advantage that they probably would not have if they were playing Baltimore or Chicago. New York will have Sabathia, Sonny Gray, and Jaime Garcia take the hill as they try to solidify their lead in the Wild Card.
An encouraging sign for the Yankees is that Aaron Judge is starting to hit and hitting the ball out of the ballpark again. Judge has hit four homers in the past week while driving in seven runs and shattering the MLB rookie record for walks in a season. On top of the re-emergence of Judge, Gary Sanchez continues to be a consistent force in the Yankees lineup. Fresh off serving his suspension for a brawl against the Detroit Tigers in August, Sanchez picked up where he left off with the bat. He is 6-12 with 2 homers and 4 RBIs since his return. The Yanks have also had continued contributions from Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury which have made the Yankees lineup deeper and a force to be reckoned with.
Perhaps the only concern that the Yankees have as October looms is their bullpen. Dellin Betances had been filling in as closer until last Saturday when Aroldis Chapman made his return in the 9th. The Yankees don't want a repeat of last year where a blown save cost them a trip to October and bringing Chapman back as the closer he once was is vital. If the Yankees find a consistent way to lock down games then they become a scary team. With guys like David Robertson, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, and Chapman, the Yanks should be able to lock down games. For some reason, they haven't been able to do it consistently this season.
New York controls their own destiny as they are getting set to face the Rays, Blue Jays, Twins, Royals and Orioles to close out the season and 17 of their final 20 games will be in the state of New York. There are no excuses for this team not to make the playoffs. With a favorable schedule and a hot offense, the Yankees should have no problem closing this out.