Halfway through the season, the New York Yankees currently have an 18% chance to make the playoffs and a 0.4% chance to win the World Series per Baseball Reference. Here are the top five keys for the Yankees to overcome the odds, and forget their discouraging first half of the season.
- Score Runs
Easier said than done. Halfway through the season, the Yankees are 13th in the American League in these categories; At Bats, Hits, and Runs. The Yankees haven’t had any significant injuries in their lineup besides Aaron Hicks (who was struggling) and Luke Voit. There is no excuse to be bottom half let alone two away from last in runs scored.
This almost exact Yankees lineup has been prominent since 2017. They have dealt with much more significant players out of the lineup due to injury than they have this year. Their best hitters are out there every day, and they are still bottom of the league in too many categories.
- Go on a REAL hot streak
Every time it feels like the Yankees are about to turn that corner and become the Bronx Bombers we once knew them as they end up disappointing. The best example I have of this is back in May when the Yankees swept the Chicago White Sox who were at the time the hottest team in baseball. It was the most exciting series of the year in my opinion. It seemed like the Yankees were back and would catch fire.
They went on to lose the next series against their division rival the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 and then were swept by the Detroit Tigers. Unacceptable habit the Yankees need to get rid of in the second half if they want any chance at a playoff spot.
The latest example of this was Sunday night, against the Houston Astros. After winning game one and two of the three game set the Yankees entered the 9th inning up 7-2. Domingo German and Chad Green let up a combined 6 runs in the inning. Does it get worse? Yes, is there a worse way to end the first half of your season on a walkoff home run from Jose Altuve? Probably not.
The Yankees need to turn the corner, and they need to do it soon. At the break, the Yankees are 3-9 when trying to complete a series sweep.
- Gleyber Torres
At the halfway point, the Yankees shortstop holds the following stats; .240 AVG, 3 HR, and 28 RBI. Torres has an unbelievable amount of pressure on him with all the buzz around a possible Trevor Story deal and this off-season’s free agent shortstops including the following; Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Javier Baez, Andrelton Simmons, and Marcus Semien.
Torres has the opportunity to put all the trade and free agent talk to rest with a big second half, but he has struggled tremendously this and last regular season. Torres is a two-time all-star, and for the Yankees to be successful, they need more production from their shortstop at the plate.
- Luis Severino and Corey Kluber
The Yankees rotation is not nearly set in stone. The only starter you can trust manager Aaron Boone to pencil in every fifth day at this point is Gerrit Cole. Although the Yankees hitting is scary bad, their starting pitching will be crucial down the stretch. The good news for Yankees fans, they will be getting their former ace and a former CY Young back in the second half.
There are many question marks around both Severino and Kluber. However, there are question marks all over their staff. Kluber got off to a slow start with the Yankees this year before turning into what looked like a second ace in the rotation. If Kluber can stay healthy in the second half he will be a difference maker in the playoff push.
The last time Yankees fans saw Severino pitch a full year in 2019 he was excellent. Severino had Tommy John surgery and missed all of the 2020 season. In June, Severino had a leg injury during one of his rehab starts in the minor leagues. Before this happened Severino’s fastball was looking as sharp as ever and he looked healthy.
If the Yankees can get either one of these starters to stay healthy and pitch as they did in their prime, their playoff chances will skyrocket. If both are healthy, the sky’s the limit.
- Win Divisional Games
The Yankees own a 17-24 record against AL East opponents this year at the break. If the Yankees aren’t able to turn this around, they will be in a lot of trouble. They will get their chance right away, coming off the All-Star break. In their next 13 games, 11 are in the AL East, and eight are against the Boston Red Sox.
The Yankees are 0-6 this season against the Boston Red Sox. Not only is that embarrassing to their fan base, but it’s also gotten them in a really big hole. The Yankees are current 8 games back in the division. Good enough for 4th place. And the Red Sox who were projected by most to be competing for third or fourth place, are now sitting on top of a competitive division.
It wouldn’t be right to leave these off the list:
Although Chapman was selected to his 7th All-Star game this season, he has not had a good appearance in quite some time. In his last 15 games, he has a 11.57 ERA, with only 5 saves. The Yankees will need the Chapman we saw in the beginning of the year. Who looked better than he ever has in his 11 year career.
The Yankees’ baserunning has been horrific. They run into more outs than any other team in the MLB. Baserunning problems is something you can’t have at the professional level, especially when your lineup leans heavily on the long ball. The acquisition of Tim Locastro is a sign of the Yankees organization recognizing the importance of doing the little things better.
Taillon’s first half of the season could have gone better. He ended strong with back to back impressive performances against the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros. At the halfway point, Taillon has a 4.83 ERA. That will have to improve if the Yankees plan on making a run. You want to feel like every starter gives you a good chance to win, and so far Taillon has not been sharp. Taillon shows flashes of being a good pitcher, the Yankees hope for more consistency in the second half.
Although Yankee fans have become growingly frustrated with the way their organization this season, the Yankees still have a chance. The odds may be very against them, but this Yankees roster is more than capable of heating up and changing that quickly. We have seen moments from every one of their stars, they all need to click at the same time. The Yankees chemistry has not looked the same.