LADY AT THE BAT: Seven Games Remaining: Yankees Need A Miracle

Monday, September 26, 2016

Seven Games Remaining: Yankees Need A Miracle

It was always a long shot. The Yankees muddled around .500 for most of the year and only in August did they start to play with any kind of consistency, going 16-11 that month and then going 7-2 during the first week of September, including a sweep of the very same Toronto Blue Jays they have faced over the past three games.

The Yankees got as close as 1.0 game within a Wild Card spot and, with the rest of the month against division rivals, including two in Baltimore and Toronto who were ahead of them in the standings, the playoffs remained a possibility.

But it was still a long shot. They’d basically have to sweep the series against the Tampa Bay Rays (the weakest opponent they’d face over the last month) and then, at minimum, win the remaining series if not sweep two or three. It was a tall order and, even with Gary Sanchez on the team, it was a challenge.

Still, the final weeks seemed set up for intrigue and, as has been recounted many times before, it was more than could possibly have been expected when the Yankees went into their rebuild mode after the All-Star Break.

Instead, however, the Yankees have been unable to make any noise at all since the height of those heady early September days. After dropping their last inter-league series of the season against the Dodgers, the Yankees went to Boston and were promptly swept away. They went 2-1 against the Tampa Bay Rays and have now lost the first three games of this four game set against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Yankees have gone 2-8 over their last 10 games and have managed to lose in every possible fashion: Absent offense, inefficient starting pitching, bullpen meltdowns. It’s that last one that probably rankles the most given the bullpen the Yankees had at the beginning of the year. Again, long term it’s probably for the best that Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman aren’t with the team given the return the Yankees got for them, but it is still tough to watch.  

Even Joe Girardi (who may be managing his last games as a Yankees skipper despite the run the Yankees went on in August - mid-September) is tired of talking about the problems of the bullpen.

Particularly troubling has been the performance of Dellin Betances. I still think this is a physical issue, not a mental one and that Betances will be fine as a closer. I maintain this belief despite Betances’s 0-2 record and 13.50 ERA over the past 7 games. This meltdown has come at a most inopportune time but Betances still has a 3.00 season ERA, with 123 Ks in just 71 IP.

Now, instead of looking forward to an action packed final week of the regular season and an outside chance of a Wild Card game, the Yankees find themselves eliminated from the A.L. East division race and just 2.0 games away from being eliminated in the Wild Card race with 7 games left to play. And, at just 79-76, there’s still a chance the Yankees finish the season under .500.

I’m still not counting out a miracle but I acknowledge that’s exactly what the Yankees 2016 season has come down to: a hope for a miracle.

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