The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and the NFL is about to kick off their season. Now is the time for playoff contenders to start getting up that head of steam that they need heading into October.
The Yankees are certainly one of those teams. Since the four game sweep at the hand of the Red Sox in early August the American League East has been essentially over. A brief glimmer of hope was extingushed last week when the Yankees lost four of seven at home against the Tigers and White Sox. With new additions and some important injured players coming back the Yankees look poised to be headed in the right direction.
First of all the Yankees are a lot deeper than they were back in early August. The additions of Andrew McCutchen and Adeiny Hechavarria have given length and depth to a team that had become a bit thin with the injury situation. Hechavarria is a plus defender and McCutchon is a former MVP with plenty of gas left in the tank. The recent returns of Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius have helped the Yankees regain their offensive might. At times over the last seven weeks the Yankee lineup had too many outs in it. They are are now as deep and as lethal as they were earlier in the season. There is however one important player who has yet to return.
Make no bones about it, the Yankees need Aaron Judge. Just his mere presence in the lineup makes the Yankees a better team. Last year's Rookie of the Year and MVP runner up adds that star power that every team in baseball would love to have in their lineup. Judge is also not a one trick pony. He hits for average, for power, gets on base, and plays a pretty good right field. It's no coincidence that since Judge went down the Yankees have been less than spectacular. Judge has been swinging a bat and hopefully will be back soon.
Real baseball fans know however that it all comes down to pitching. It's wonderful that players are getting healthy but if this team does not get consistently better starting pitching, October is going to be a short month. It begins with Luis Severino. The young phenom who has been so good earlier this season has seemed to have hit a wall. The Yankees need him to round back into form if they want to make a run in October. The other trouble spot seems to be veteran CC Sabathia. The big lefty who has been so good for so long seems to have lost something over the last few starts. He needs to bounce back as well and start to pitch the way he did earlier in the year.
Yankees still have alot to play for. The division may be over but they still need to clinch that wild card. They also would like to make sure that the Wild Card game is in the Bronx. Finishing off a road trip out west followed by a long homestand which includes three games against Boston is just what New York needs to get back that mojo heading into October.
Photo: (Julie Jacobson - AP Photo)