The New York Yankees did not lose any ground in the American League Wild Card race despite losing three of four games to the Boston Red Sox this past weekend. The Yankees came very close to winning three of the four matchups but were betrayed by a tired and banged up bullpen. The fact that the Yankees didn’t lose any ground in the Wild Card race is good news. The bad news is they squandered two games they should have won and there are now four fewer games left on the schedule.
The Yankees are still within reach of making the playoffs. However, their pitching, which has been their strength all year, is starting to betray them. We already knew about C.C. Sabathia’s struggles and Phil Hughes’ ineffectiveness which have been a season-long issue. However, Hiroki Kuroda has showed signs of running out of gas after being the Yankees’ ace. David Huff, Phil Hughes’ replacement got shelled on Saturday and has a terrible track record as a starter. Andy Pettitte is essentially a 95-pitch pitcher and has been up and down all season long. That leaves Ivan Nova as the steadiest pitcher on the staff right now.
To compound the issue the bullpen has been stretched thin by injury and overuse. David Robertson is day-to-day with shoulder tendinitis. Boone Logan received a cortisone shot and might be available by Friday. Shawn Kelley had some triceps inflammation and is back in the bullpen but has to be carefully monitored. Mariano Rivera hasn’t even been his typical self recently with another two blown saves against the Red Sox this weekend.
These arms are what the Yankees’ playoff hopes rest upon. This is not exactly encouraging for Yankees fans. However, as we have seen all year long the Yankees are full of fight and Sabathia and Kuroda could go out and pitch a great game any day. Pettitte has shown he can do the same. The light at the end of the tunnel that is the Yankees’ playoff hopes still flickers amid the darkness. The Yankees will have to go out and take it one game at a time. There are still four games left against the Baltimore Orioles, three against the Red Sox, three against the Toronto Blue Jays, three against the San Francisco Giants, three against the Tampa Bay Rays and finally, three against the Houston Astros. Not exactly a very difficult schedule and they do play two teams they need to leapfrog in the Wild Card standings.
The playoffs are still within reach but the arms in the rotation will need to step up their game and the arms in the bullpen need to get healthy. These are no easy fixes but the Yankees do, in a way, control their own destiny.