The New York Yankees are one win away from No. 10,000 for the franchise, which dates back to 1903 when they were the New York Highlanders.
The current 9,999 wins include 27 World Series Championships, the last coming in 2009. The last two years featured no October baseball for the city of New York, but that will change as both the New York Mets and Yankees will be in the postseason for the first time since 2006.
For the Yankees in particular, having missed in 2013 and 2014, the focus is on clinching a playoff spot. Currently 4.5 up on the Houston Astros, the Yankees are staring at a wild card berth, their first since 2010. Considering the state of the Yankees the past few years, clinching the wild card is not a failure.
Rather than focusing on their $200-plus million payroll, the Yankees boast a starting rotation of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Iván Nova, Nathan Eovaldi and Luis Severino, all under 30 years of age, and four of the starters younger than 27.
They feature a dominant bullpen including lights-out setup man Dellin Betances who is just 27 years-old — Betances leads MLB relievers with 125 strikeouts — and closer Andrew Miller, who prior to 2015, had one career save. For the Yankees, he’s 36/38 save opportunities.
They feature a stud first baseman by the name of Greg Bird — .250, 10 HR, 29 RBI through 39 games — who has filled in admirably for Mark Teixeira, who is gone for the season due to a shin fracture.
Brian McCann has proven to be one of the best catchers in baseball again, but also the emergence of backup John Ryan Murphy who has shown life with the bat — hitting .280 on the season — is showing the Yankees they might just have their future catcher after McCann.
There are a lot of bright spots for a team which at times has seemingly slogged their way through 2015. Up as much as six games in the AL East on July 31, the Yankees have struggled to a 29-25 record since then.
Severino has stepped into a pressure-role and has mostly thrived for New York, helping them towards the playoffs this year but also figuring in the Yankees’ long-term plans sooner than most would have expected. Through 10 starts, he’s 5-3 with a 2.77 ERA, displaying a screaming fastball and near 2:1 strikeout-to-walk rate.
Tanaka, who missed his last start due to a hamstring injury, is expected to be ready to start the wild card game for New York next week. Should he be unavailable, Severino is likely the next up, which is maybe not the perfect scenario for a team to have to trust a rookie but should that scenario arrive, who better than Severino?
The Yankees are a perfect blend of very good, young and filled with flaws but also long-term potential. They don’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of their opponents with their inconsistencies of late, but figure to be on the verge of that dangerous club they’ve been so often in their history. A nucleus is starting to take place, their pitching is young and the bullpen is as good as expected.
The 2000 Yankees’ also struggled into the playoffs, then got hot at the right time en route to capturing the title. I’m not saying this team can replicate that success, but it’s another slice of history to digest as we look at today’s team filled with veterans, mostly relying on its youth to take them far, both today but mainly tomorrow.