The 2019 season is almost three-quarters of the way done. It has seemed to fly by because of the Yanks success and just how fun their roster has been. If you had told me in April that it would be August 9th and the Yankees would’ve all but won the division, I probably would’ve been more than a tad skeptical. But here we are with an 11 game lead over the Rays and a 17 game lead over the Sox, both in the loss column. How sweet it is.
So, with the division all but won barring an unheard of collapse, what’s there to look forward to down the stretch?
Securing Home-Field AdvantageEmbed from Getty Images
For starters: home-field advantage is going to be important this season. The Yankees are legitimate title contenders and playing in YSIII is a major advantage. They have to shoot for the best record in baseball. They have it right now, but both the Dodgers and Astros are not far behind. The Yanks have been hot and so have Houston and LA. The division may be all but over, but they have to secure the best record in the league to maximize their position.
So, let’s take a look at their upcoming schedule. After the current Jays series, the Yanks have 14 remaining series, facing 11 different opponents. Six are at home and eight are away. Of their remaining 14 series, 6 are against opponents with a record less than .500. That number rises to 8 if you count the Rangers, who have a winning percentage of just .509 (two wins above .500). That is by no means a difficult schedule. Should they be able to dominate the majority of those series and have to win against just a few good teams (Dodgers, Rays, Sox, Indians).
If you’re wondering, the Yanks won’t face Houston again this regular season. So in terms of separating space with for the best record in baseball, they can only control that against the Dodgers. They face LA in the middle of a fairly long West Coast trip where they face LA three times after a trip to Oakland. It’ll be a good test to see how they shape up against the best team in the NL and if they can create breathing room for home-field advantage.
Importantly, though, the Dodgers have an incredibly easy schedule coming up. They have 15 series remaining, and only 4 are against winning teams. That number goes up to 7 if you include Arizona and the Giants, but they’re both hovering at just about .500 teams.
The Astros also have 15 series remaining. They also only face 4 winning teams–5 if you count Texas. You know, it’s almost like the league has a competition issue.
Anyways, it’s safe to say that the Yanks, Dodgers, and Astros all have an easy schedule. Nothing you can do besides go out and try and win your games and not worry about the others.
“The Best Trade We Could Make”Embed from Getty Images
The last fifty games of the season are going to be very important for two specific players: Severino and Betances. Their development (and please, God, no setbacks) are going to be vital for the Yankees postseason odds. Watching them in August and September is going to be incredibly important. If Sevy can come out and throw 100 mph accurately, you best believe he will be a force in the postseason, no matter what capacity they think is best for him and the team.
Betances, too, could come back and immediately improve their strongest asset. If he comes back healthy and ready to perform, it will be important for him to build strength and, importantly, give some rest to the other star relievers.
And finally, Stanton should be back before October. He will be an immediate improvement to their already impressive offense. If he can come back and be healthy, the league better watch out.
These would be three legitimate improvements to the Yankee roster. Seriously, these are three actual superstars. It’s nice how the replacements have stepped up, but how these guys bounce back during the last quarter of the season will be incredibly important to the Yankees’ ultimate aspirations.
September Call UpsEmbed from Getty Images
The Yankees will obviously expand their roster this September. The rule changes mean they will not be able to add any big name from a waiver trade. So, they’ll have to come internally.
Your bet is about as good as mine about why Frazier isn’t playing in New York already. But I do believe he will be playing come September. Regardless of your opinion of Clint, he’s shown flashes of being very good and deserves to play in at least September. I expect we’ll see him.
Deivi Garcia, too, will be given innings. As Mike recently pointed out in his Patreon and I started to worry about a while back, their bullpen is going to need rest in September. Why not give Garcia a shot? Yes, he hasn’t been as dominating in Triple-A as he was in Double-A, but it is still an incredibly small sample size and nobody questions his talent. If he can continue to improve as he adjusts to the new ball, he should be given a chance to get outs at the Major League level. And hopefully, he can make a legitimate impact on this team, though anything at all would be nice.
So yes, the 2019 division race is all but over. But no, upcoming Yankee games are not less meaningful. While they have to balance competitiveness with smart, incremental rest, they do need to continue to win games. Home-field advantage will be important.
And these games will be important for returning players. Sevy and Betances have not thrown a single inning yet in 2019. They will need all the time they can get to get ready for October.
And September is always fun for prospects. I suspect we’ll see what Deivi can do at the major league level, and I truly hope Clint gets another chance to improve this team.