Can the New York Yankees Seal the Top Wildcard Spot?

The New York Yankees stand as the second-best team in the MLB after 139 games, and yet their 87-52 record wasn’t enough to stand atop their division. This is because the team that’s been slashing its way through the league, the Boston Red Sox, just so happen to be in the American League East as well.

Despite a lot of fine baseball being played by the Yankees, it looks as though the 8.5 games back with 23 to go is too much of an ask given the play of Boston. Nevertheless, there’s still the wildcard places to claimed for yet another year. But, do the Yankees have what it takes to hold onto their top wild place in the American League?

Usurped by an unexpectedly strong Boston

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Source: Amanda, via Twitter

Bar the reigning World Series champions, the Houston Astros, the New York Yankees were pegged as the best team in the league. This was meant to be the season that the Yankees rose up and knocked the Red Sox off of their perch in the division. But, Boston has been able to gel and find consistency in a way that few saw coming and look to finish the season with well over 100 wins.

The New York Yankees were doing well to keep pace over the season but may ultimately have to settle for the second-best record in the MLB while sitting in the wild card place. To enter September, it appeared as though the Yankees were resigned to no longer exuding too much energy in chasing Boston, going 3-4 over a homestand against the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers.

But, September yields a tricky schedule which makes the chase for the wild card very real.

Tough schedule for the Yankees

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Source: New York Yankees, via Twitter

The New York Yankees’ September schedule to round out the season is dotted with very difficult spells. It started off by facing two other close contenders for wildcard places in the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners, with series against the Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays following up.

Then, the old rivals meet in the Bronx for three games, which will likely be a time when the Red Sox have exceeded the 100-win mark. A small break comes in the form of a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles before traveling to face the Tampa Bay Rays, who may also be in pursuit of a wildcard place. Over in Boston, the season finishes with a duel against the Red Sox once again.

It’s not a pretty schedule, and the Yankees will need to pull out all of the stops to clinch the top wildcard place. It’s because of this schedule that the Yankees’ MLB betting odds are at +800 to win the World Series now, trailing the Red Sox at +325 and Astros at +350. But, there is some good news on the horizon.

Return of the Judge

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Source: NY Daily News Sports, via Twitter

September got underway with some inspiring news for the New York Yankees: Aaron Judge is getting close to a return. When the right fielder initially suffered from a broken wrist bone against the Kansas City Royals on July 26, he was given a three-week window to return. Five weeks on from that prognosis and Judge finally looks to be closing in on a return. Having practiced his swing underwater, Judge has been doing 100 percent effort hits off of a tee and will soon move to the soft pitch, and then the cages.

If Judge can return before the end of the season, and preferably before the September 18 meet with the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees will receive a major boost in their bid to claim the top wildcard spot. The division may be all but out of sight, but the Yankees look set to contend in the postseason for the ultimate prize.

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