162 games. A full season of ups and downs, exciting wins and deflating losses. And, once again, it all comes down to the last minute for the New York Yankees.
With only 30 games remaining in their season, the Yankees are faced with a seemingly impossible task: overcome the odds and clinch a spot in the 2016 playoffs. That is a far cry from their atrocious sub-.500 play the majority of the season.
Finding themselves victors of six of the last seven series, New York is on the right track to pulling off a magical season, all while getting rid of their top performers at the trade deadline. To add accolades to their recent victories, all but one of the seven opposing teams are over .500 on the season.
The Yankees find themselves facing formidable opponents from the American League East for 27 of their final 30 games. While the overwhelming response to a schedule like this is of defeat, the Yankees actually have to look at the schedule as their best shot to make the playoffs.
These match-ups pit the Yankees against the teams that are ahead of them and keeping them from the playoffs. With head-to-head match-ups, they have a shot to gain ground on their opponents and roar into the playoff scene. But with a schedule like this, there is always a chance to crash and burn with a few losses. You either gain ground or you lose ground…but either way, the Yankees are guaranteed to directly affect their own chances at the playoffs.
Without a real shot at winning the division, the Yankees are eyeing the Wild Card spots, which are held by their division rivals, the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. Only sitting 2.5 games out of the playoffs, the Yankees have made their strides by defeating the Kansas City Royals. In extra innings. On the road. Under the harshest conditions, the Yankees have shown they can emerge as victors.
The Yankees have shown fight and fire, more so than they have all season, and now it is getting right down to the wire. In their last seven games, the Yankees have posted a stellar team batting average of .314, along with 87 hits. Everything is working right now for New York and continuing this streak will only get them closer to October baseball. With their recent call-ups has also come a renewed attitude and a youthful spirit that has given them hope in what was once to be thought of as a lost season.
ESPN currently gives the Yankees a 5.2% chance of making the playoffs, but with their recent hot streak, it wouldn’t be surprising to see that number steadily rise. So far this season, the Yankees are 7-6 against Baltimore, 5-7 against Boston and 6-6 against Tampa Bay. Pretty evenly matched, New York will be facing opponents they are familiar with, all while playing their best baseball so far this season.
Instead of looking negatively at the difficulty of these final 30 games, it is beneficial to think about all the positives. The Yankees are hot. They can directly affect their own chances at the playoffs. They don’t have to wait around for other ridiculous scenarios to play out to get them into October. Instead, they have to actually do the work themselves to make it.
This all is just preparing New York for what they’ll be facing in October; High emotions and even higher stakes. This is what it all comes down to. And when the Yankees reach the end of their season, they only have themselves to thank or to blame for whatever the outcome.