Previewing the Yankees Chances


Aaron Judge and the Yankees could push their way into the World Series. (Courtesy of Flickr)

By Rafique Louison

Aaron Judge and the Yankees could push their way into the World Series. (Courtesy of Flickr)

A year ago, the Yankees surprised the baseball world when they had one of the most memorable postseason runs in 2017.

No one expected a team led by Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, an aging CC Sabathia and Araron Hicks to mount a come-from-behind American League Division Series series win over the then-defending AL champion Cleveland Indians, have a perfect 5-0 home playoff record and end up a victory away from taking out the eventual World Series champion Houston Astros.

That roster started as a rebuilding team, but breakout players like Judge accelerated it. Judge hit a rookie-record 52 home runs and won the AL Rookie of the Year award to help turn the Yankees back into a World Series contender.
Even though the Yankees have been out of the AL East divisional race since the beginning of August—despite the offseason acquisition of 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton and the ascension of rookie Gleyber Torres—they did get their first 100-win season since 2009 and are heading into an AL Wild Card match-up with the surging Oakland Athletics.

The Yankees and A’s have split the season series 3-3, but Oakland took the most recent series 2-1 in the Bay earlier in September. The bats of Jonathan Lucroy and Khris Davis, who leads the majors with 48 home runs and 123 RBIs, could be a problem for the Yankees’ pitching rotation, whoever starts for them. It comes down to which sluggers come alive in a game to determine a spot in the ALDS against the Red Sox in Boston, who also notched over 100 wins.

Assuming the Yankees get past an Athletics team that hasn’t been to the playoff since 2014, it could lead to the first Red Sox-Yankees postseason matchup since 2004, back when Boston came back from 3-0 to win the ALCS and, eventually, a World Series win over the Albert Pujols-led St. Louis Cardinals.

If the Yankees want another shot at the franchise’s 28th World Series title, they will have to hope they don’t play like a team that had injuries to Judge, Sanchez and Stanton throughout the season. Oakland didn’t expect to be back in the postseason conversation so soon. They come into it winning six of the last nine games and had a stretch of winning 21 of 27 games from mid-June through mid-July.

The Yankees will have their hands full getting past the surprising Athletics, and Major-League-best Red Sox and the ALCS to reach the Fall Classic. It all comes down to the team’s offense and great pitching. The Yankees only scored one run in the two series-clinching opportunities against the Astros last year.
In a postseason filled with three 100-win teams, can Judge, Stanton, Sanchez and Torres power their way towards the 2018 World Series?