Yankees need only beat Boston one more time to win AL East Crown
One hundred and sixty one games into the regular season and the New York Yankees still have plenty of outcomes the team can be facing after tomorrow’s regular season finale.
New York chose the right time to win its first game when trailing after eight innings, coming back against the arch rival Red Sox and maintaining a one game lead in the American League East. The Baltimore Orioles kept pace by shutting out the Tampa Bay Rays and handing James Shields a loss despite an eight inning and 15 strikeout performance.
- If the Yankees win against the Red Sox, they have home field advantage throughout the ALCS and will be on the road against either Texas, Oakland or Baltimore, the only three options who can qualify for the wildcard.
- If Texas beats Oakland and the Yankees lose, New York still has home field advantage (as long as Baltimore loses) on account of having the tie breaker with a 4-3 season series victory. However, Texas would win the American League West and force Oakland into the wildcard against either the Yankees or Orioles.
- If Oakland beats Texas and the Yankees lose, Oakland wins the American League West and Texas plays the wildcard against either the Orioles or Yankees.
- If the Yankees lose and the Orioles win, both teams will have to play a tie-breaker in Baltimore with Andy Pettitte tabbed to start. Hiroki Kuroda was declared, as predicted earlier, the number two starter for a division series.
- If the Yankees lose and the Orioles lose, the Yankees win the American League East and would take on either the Orioles, A’s Tigers, or Rangers in the first round of the playoffs on the road, depending on who wins the wildcard and who wins the American League West.
- If Oakland wins and the Yankees and Orioles both lose, Oakland gets home field throughout the ALCS and takes on the winner of the Orioles-Rangers wildcard game. This is the only situation the Yankees would play the Tigers in the first round. That series would start in Detroit with Justin Verlander facing CC Sabathia and Doug Fister likely to take on Kuroda in Game Two.
- Tampa and Los Angeles are both out of playoff contention.
The Yankees can literally play any of the four clinched teams in the first round of the playoffs depending on tomorrow’s action. The Tigers would appear to be the team New York would least want to play in a short series with Verlander being the best pitcher in the league and Fister and Scherzer presenting depth capable of matching Kuroda and Pettitte.
Texas has now lost four of its last five and appear to be vulnerable with Mike Adams, Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis all out for the ALDS. However, the Rangers are also two-time AL defending champs and have a prolific offense.
Baltimore has been the hottest team in the second half, but does not have an actual ace in the rotation. They do, however, have the best bullpen in the league and have a knack for winning close games.
Oakland has the best overall pitching staff statistically and also play well in close games. The A’s have 14 rookies and four of them in the rotation, so it would be interesting to see how they respond on a playoff stage.
There are pros and cons to every outcome tomorrow, but everything is up in the air. It would be in the Yankees’ best interest to beat the Red Sox one more time, secure home field and prepare to travel knowing games 3-5 are waiting at Yankee Stadium and the rotation will be set.