Fortunately there are reasons to be optimistic. Just compare the resent slide to the 2000 Yankees who won the World Series and it’s easy to see why.
Those Yankees started the season 82-58 before tanking down the stretch to a 5-16 record that raised giant red flags. Things were bad, real bad.
Over those final 21 games their offense was putrid, they hit only .240 with a .671 OPS and scored just 3.28 runs per game. Their pitching was even worse, in 182.2 innings they struck out only 155, walked 78, and had a 7.24 ERA. During that stretch they scored 72 runs and allowed 156, a -84 run differential.
In contrast, this team has had better hitting and better pitching than their 2000 counterparts. Over the final 26 games, they hit .249 with a .726 OPS which gave them 4.58 runs per game. The pitching staff tossed 236.2 innings, struck out 189, walked 99, good for a 5.10 ERA.
Further, the 2000 team was a mostly healthy one. All of their regulars played in the majority of the games and their pitching staff was the same exact one it carried into the postseason. This team lost Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher for large chunks of time and was without their no. 2 starter, Andy Pettitte, for most of the month.
Also, the schedule was tougher this time around. The 2000 Yankees faced six different teams during their poor run, three winning teams and three losing teams. The 2010 Yankees faced five different teams, only one of which had a losing record, the Baltimore Orioles who were red hot down the stretch.
This by no means is to say that the 2010 Yankees are going to win the World Series. All this is done to point out that September doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot in the big picture. These Yankees finished with the second best record in the American League, only one game behind the Rays who had the best record.
They had a tough schedule down the stretch and struggled. It happens. But overall, they are a very good team. Keep in mind, they were using a lot of pitchers down the stretch that might not even make the postseason roster that posted a 2-10 record overall. That was done in an effort to make sure they had a healthy and strong bullpen in October.
After all, October games count a whole lot more than September games do. Just because you go into the playoffs cold doesn’t necessarily mean that will carry over. All that really matters is that you got to the playoffs.