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In the American League, 'tis the Yankees who shall choke in October.
The Yankees are no sure thing to even make it that far, mind you. They've lost 10 of their last 13 games and have watched their lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East dwindle to a single game (pending the outcome of Tuesday's games).
But really, the Yankees' mediocrity is not so much a recent thing. After going a sparkling 20-7 in June, they went 13-13 in July, 15-13 in August, and are 1-2 so far in September. Over the last two months, the Bombers are a mere 29-28.
The Yankees' problems are just as plentiful as the Dodgers' problems. They only have one starting pitcher they can call a true ace, and it's concerning that his name is Hiroki Kuroda and not CC Sabathia. The Yankees' expensive lefty has had his roughest season in years, and you have to think no contender in the American League is scared to face him anymore.
Teams shouldn't be frightened of the rest of the Yankees rotation either. Andy Pettitte may not be able to help the Yankees in October. Phil Hughes is prone to shellackings. Ivan Nova never was that good, and he may not even figure into the team's plans for its October rotation after going 1-3 with an 8.59 ERA in his previous five starts.
In a strange twist of fate, the Yankees offense isn't all that scary either. The Bombers may lead all of baseball in home runs, but the homers haven't been coming all that frequently lately due to injuries (Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira) and slumps (Curtis Granderson).
When the Yankees aren't hitting the ball out of the park, runs are very hard for them to come by. Such is life when a team has a mere .250 batting average with runners in scoring position.
We've seen the Yankees struggle in the regular season before, only to go on and dominate in the postseason. The 2000 Yankees, for example, won just 87 games during the regular season before going on to win the franchise's third straight World Series.
But we may as well be talking about ancient history. The present version of the Yankees has been bounced from the playoffs earlier than they would have liked each of the last two years despite excellent regular seasons.
If the 2010 or 2011 Yankees weren't good enough to win it all, the 2012 Yankees certainly aren't. Their stay in the postseason will be brief.
Hey, at least I have them getting to October. Even Yankees fans should be able to agree at this point that trusting them to make it that far requires a leap of faith.
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