Unconventionally, the Yankees postseason starts tonight. New York has their back against the wall. Their season has been filled with dramatic losses and triumphant wins, but critical losses early on and throughout the season have placed them in an uncomfortable position. With only nine games left of the regular season, it all comes down to stepping up and taking down the three-headed monster of the American League East. What's in store over the next week will showcase the true colors of the 2021 New York Yankees.
Three against the surging Toronto Blue Jays.
Three against the top of the table Tampa Bay Rays.
And starting today, three against the division rival Boston Red Sox.
A tough stretch to close out the season, and unfortunately everything on the line rides with these games. The Yankees can almost certainly kiss the playoffs goodbye if they don't win the series against the Red Sox. The standings are razor thin, with currently holding sole possession of the 2nd Wild Card spot by a game.
This season hasn't been pretty, especially against Boston. Their record stands at 6-10 this year, it would've been 7 if the whole Domingo no-hitter and bullpen mismanagement game didn't occur, but you can't look at it like that nor make excuses. At Fenway Park, the Red Sox are 6-1, outscoring the Yankees 37-21. That's disheartening.
Saying these three games are critical and must-wins is underselling it. At the beginning of the season, winning the World Series was the only expectation. The trade deadline made us feel ensuring that the postseason was in our control. Now the last week of September provides us with little hope and grasping for air if October baseball is even in our near future.
Friday 9/24: Gerrit Cole vs. Nathan Eovaldi
Having Gerrit Cole set the tone for the entire series is just what the Yanks need. His last outing was hard to watch, and he hasn't seen much success against the Sox this year (3 games - 5.06 ERA, 4 HR's in 16 innings). No matter the game, no matter the stats, there isn't anyone else I'd rather have on the mound tonight then the Ace himself. Cole signed with the Yankees with one goal, to win. He knows that this start will be one of his biggest in pinstripes, and he is ready for the pressure.
Saturday 9/25: Néstor Cortes Jr. vs. Nick Pivetta
Nasty Nestor has been a pleasant surprise this season, and his efforts do not go unnoticed. In 12 starts this season, Nestor have up three runs or fewer in 11 of those games. He's pitching a 2.79 ERA, 3.75 FIP, and 94 strikeouts in 84 innings. His last two outing's resulted in 7 and 11 strikeouts, and will need that smoke on Saturday.
Sunday 9/26: Jordan Montgomery vs. Eduardo Rodríguez
The southpaw is having himself quite the season, and frankly he is one of the most underrated starters in the league. He has given up one run or less in eight of his last ten starts, throwing a 3.55 ERA, 3.48 FIP, and 155 strikeouts in 149.2 innings this season. The only issue with his starts is that the Yankees refuse to offer run support for some odd reason.
Either way, I feel comfortable with the three pitchers slated this weekend, as should most fans. With Luis Severino, Mike King, and Domingo German offering long relief, Aroldis Chapman returning to All-Star form, and reliable guys like Wandy Peralta and Clay Holmes, this pitching staff is ready for war.