The Yankees are in a good position to make the playoffs. Their magic number –to win the AL East– sits at 13 right now with 14 games left to go. They are a game up on Baltimore and Oakland and four up, in the loss column, on the Los Angeles Angels. With Andy Pettitte and Ivan Nova back, the Yankees are primed for a postseason push. Let’s take a look at who will finish where and a possible favorable matchup, if the Yankees make the playoffs.
1.) Texas Rangers (Playoff Magic Number* – 7)
How they’ll finish: AL West Champion
How they’ll get there: The Rangers have been the best team in the American League over the second half of the season. They were arguably the best for the first half but I think the Yankees have the edge there. In the past month they haven’t been nearly as hot as the Oakland A’s but they’ve done well enough. The issue moving forward is the schedule for the AL West. The Rangers play 7 of their remaining 14 against the A’s and four against the Angels. Something’s going to give and I think it’s the A’s. The Rangers will benefit from the A’s playing their remaining games against, the Rangers, Yankees, Tigers, Angels, and a three game set against the Mariners. Yikes.
2.) New York Yankees (8)
How they’ll finish: AL Best Record
How they’ll get there: They have a cake walk of a schedule. Nova and Pettitte have come back and are fresh arms to add to the rotation. It’s very fortunate that the A’s are the best team the Yanks will play down the stretch. The remaining opponents are the Blue Jays, Twins, and Red Sox. While there are three teams looking to play spoiler, it’s been a tiring year for each of those clubs and it will be too tough for them to beat a team that’s hungry for October. The Yankees have played some of their best ball as of late, winning a crucial double header to keep the pressure on the Orioles. What may be the most damning stat of all for this team is that the Yankees last series wins against teams with winning records are August 13th against the Rangers and before that, July 13th against the Angels.
3.) Baltimore Orioles (9)
How they’ll finish: AL 1st Wild Card
How they’ll get there: Schedule. Schedule. Schedule. They don’t play a winning team (Tampa Bay) until the final three games of the season. The Rays will need a lot of luck to catch the O’s and I don’t see it happening. I’ve been saying how lucky the Orioles have been all year but credit goes to the Showalter and that bullpen as they deserve it. They’ve played great baseball and are in a great position to reach the postseason, maybe even win the AL East which is something they’ve not been able to do since 1997. If the Orioles take care of business, which they have so far in September, they’ll be looking at the Angels in a first round matchup. Speaking of the Angels…
4.) LA Angels (Need Help)
How they’ll finish: AL 2nd Wild Card
How they’ll get there: The Angels also benefit from the Athletics schedule. The Angels control their own destiny as they face the A’s and the Rangers in their remaining 14 games. They also will face the Chicago White Sox and that is helpful simply because it gives a chance to push a team out of the Wild Card race. The Angels pounded the Rangers two nights ago 11-2 and are in a position to take the series. If the Angels can simply split against the Rangers and A’s, and win their remaining series, they will most likely get in the playoffs due to the A’s difficult schedule.
5.) Detroit Tigers (Need Help)
How they’ll finish: AL Central Champion
How they’ll get there: Two words: Miguel Cabrera. He’ll win the Triple Crown, MVP, Silver Slugger, and any other offensive award that can be issued. He is the motor of that team and right now he’s on fire. Their rotation down the stretch will be huge since they’ll get two more starts out of Verlander. Max Scherzer going down will hurt them, but they have six games remaining against the Twins and seven against the Royals. If they win each of those series, I see them making it in over Chicago. The reason being, Chicago plays two series of major importance and they’ve struggled in September so far. The Tigers need help and can really only win the Central at this point as they are 5.5 games back in the wild card chase.
*-Number of wins needed to ensure a spot in the postseason
The Rays and A’s will just miss the postseason because of the schedules the teams ahead face let alone the toughness of their respective schedules. It’s not to say either team isn’t good enough to best their schedules, it’s just that the A’s can’t lose series at this point and to beat the best teams in each division two out of every three, is nearly impossible. Either way, the postseason push come October is going to be one to remember.