As of this moment, the Yankees are on pace to win 104 games, which would represent their highest win total since winning 103 in 2009, their last World Series championship. Yet, they find themselves 5.5 games behind Boston, which would mean that they would yet again be situated in the Wild Card game despite winning over 100 games.
Sure, the fact that the Yankees will almost certainly win more games than the AL Central-leading Indians (who the Yankees are 5-2 against this season) and perhaps even the defending World Series champion Astros (also 5-2 against them) while possibly having their season come down to one game is unfair, but the fact of the matter is that August presents a pristine opportunity for the Bombers.
They begin the home stretch of summer with the second game of a two-game set against the MLB-worst Orioles, a team that just traded Manny Machado and Zach Britton while also currently being on pace to lose 114 games, which would be one of the worst seasons in history. That being said, the Yankees are just 5-5 against the AL East cellar dwellers this season.
After a four-game set against Boston at Fenway Park from August 2nd-August 5th, the Yankees will face the White Sox, Rangers, Mets (a make-up game), Rays, Blue Jays, Marlins, and Tigers, teams that possess a combined win percentage of just .412.
Along with the aforementioned Britton trade, Brian Cashman facilitated a bargain for Blue Jays southpaw J.A. Happ. Earlier on the morning of Sunday, July 29th, Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos were traded as well, in a move to add depth to first base (deal included Luke Voit) and increase flexibility for international spending (international bonus pool money was included as well).
The fact of the matter is that Boston (41-14 against losing teams) does not play down to its competition, whereas the Yankees often have (29-17 against sub-.500 teams, just the 11th-best record against such teams this year).
Aaron Boone deserves a lot of credit for catapulting the Yankees into this position after just a 9-9 start, as his team has posted a 57-28 record since. They have been able to do so in spite of the fact that the bullpen had its initial shortcomings, coupled with abysmal seasons from Gary Sanchez (who will be out until late August) and Sonny Gray, while also having to get by with injuries to top-flight reliever Tommy Kahnle, and now an injured Aaron Judge, who will miss at least three weeks.
However, it cannot be accentuated frequently enough that the Yankees have not win the division since 2012, and does the team really want to be complacent with potentially having its season come down to one game?
The prospects of a fourth (or fifth, depending on what people count) postseason encounter with Boston (1999, 2003 and 2004 ALCS, and even the 1978 AL East “playoff” game for some) are certainly enticing, but having more games at Yankee Stadium for that potential clash between the Evil Empire and the Jedi Knights would prove to be advantageous for the Yankees, and that goes for any postseason opponent.