It's been a magical year at Yankee stadium, and the regular season comes to a close this week. To close the homestand until the playoffs, the Yanks won two-of-three against the O's. We learned a thing or two as the season end with this series. These games had no meaning for the Yankees, realistically, they weren't going to catch Houston for the No. 1 seed.
For starters, let's talk starters. I know Boone said that Gerrit Cole is the Game 1 starter, but Nestor really should be the more favorable option. On Saturday, we witnessed a masterclass performance from Nasty Nestor. 7 innings, 1 hit, and 12ks. Unbelievable, it makes me feel much more comfortable having a guy like him.
Speaking of pitchers, the bullpen is going to be the Achilles heal of this team. Once a rock-solid platoon is now being hit with uncertainty and multiple injuries. Ron Marinaccio exited the final game with lingering shin injury. Aroldis Chapman is a DFA candidate after his struggles, including walking three consecutive batters to load the bases. Clay Holmes is dealing with some shoulder things and won't be pitching the rest of the regular season. Not to mention, Zack Britton is officially out for the year (again), joining Mike King and Chad Green. Right now, this is our closer. I'm not mad about it, but we need reinforcements, ASAP.
The offense is getting back in the grove. Both Stanton and Rizzo are getting their swings ready for the postseason. Oswaldo Cabrera has earned himself a starting nod for the ALDS. Gleyber Torres has made himself indispensable. His last 7 games include a .346 batting average, with 8 RBI's.
As for Aaron Judge, the home run record is still waiting in the wings. Granted, he was walked a handful of times, but the stress of achieving this could be a weight on his shoulders. His batting average is down to .311 after the 0-3 today, leaving him .004 behind Minnesota’s Luis Arraez for the batting title. It's not about induvial awards, but it would be sweet for both parties if he can claim the AL Homer record and the Triple Crown this year.
Comfortably, the Yankees have clinched the 2nd seed in the AL, which awards them a first round bye. I am skeptical about being off a week, but I think it's necessary for the rest. Especially with the likes of Carpenter, Wandy Peralta, and possibly Andrew Benintendi all returning from the IL, it would be great to get them back on the team in full force. It's also nice not having to worry about the division and the bye all the way to the wire.
The final four games of the season are down in Texas. A 97-61 record, but four games that really don't mean anything for the future. 100 wins would be icing on the cake, as would Judge's 62nd home run, but the most important thing is to fine tune what needs fixing, and remain healthy. Playoff baseball is upon us.