Joe Girardi has his team pointed in the right direction. Can they may a run to the playoffs in September?
In spite of this being one of the team's most turbulent seasons, the New York Yankees remain within striking distance of a spot in the American League playoffs.
How they play in September will determine the Bombers' fate.
With all of the injuries to key players (as well as their replacements), and the circus surrounding MLB's investigation into the use of PEDs by third baseman Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees have had to battle more than just their opponents on the field of play.
Yet, here they are.
Can the team wake the ghosts of 1978 and make a miracle run in the final month of the regular season?
This article will take a look at three reasons the Yankees can, and will, make the 2013 playoffs.
Alfonso Soriano has given the Yankees a much-needed spark.
Any team trying to come from behind to reach the playoffs needs momentum on their side.
The Yankees have momentum.
Following a dreadful June where the team went 11-16, the Bombers rebounded with a 14-win month in July.
August is shaping up to be even better.
As the MLB trade deadline neared, the team dealt minor league prospect Corey Black for former fan favorite Alfonso Soriano on July 26.
It was the spark the team needed.
Since joining the Yankees, Soriano is hitting .270 with 11 home runs, 33 RBI and 23 runs scored.
Through August 27, the Yankees are 14-11 for the month and threatening to make this their most successful since April (they went 16-10).
They are doing this while those they are trying to catch are spinning their wheels.
|Tampa Bay Rays||10-12|
The table above shows the August records for each of the teams the Yankees are competing with for a Wild Card spot. None of them has a winning record for the month, and only division leader Boston (not shown in table) has won more than they've lost (they are 13—11).
Carrying the momentum they've established during the month into September may give the Yankees the edge over their rivals.
The Yankees captain is back (finally), and the team is as healthy as it has been all season
If the Yankees are to make a September to remember they need as many healthy players as they can get.
It is no secret that 2013 has been an injury nightmare for the team. The disabled list has seen the likes of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter (multiple times), Curtis Granderson (twice), Kevin Youkilis, Eduardo Nunez, Jayson Nix, Francisco Cervelli (now suspended) and David Phelps.
Now, with the return of Jeter, Granderson, Nunez and Rodriguez, as well as the additions of Soriano and Mark Reynolds, the Yankees are able to present their deepest lineup of the season.
The timing couldn't be better.
For a good portion of the current campaign the team had Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay occupying the heart of its order. While they provide decent play from day to day, they are not middle-of-the-order material, and the results were noticeable as the team ranks 17th in hitting from the cleanup spot in the order.
For the first time in 17 years, the Yankees have not out-homered their opponents (they've hit 120 and their opponents have knocked 138 over the walls) and rank 21st in MLB in that category.
If they can maintain their health, the Yankees will make a formidable opponent during the final month of the season.
The Yankees' schedule gives them the opportunity to keep their fans cheering.
To make up ground on their opponents, the Yankees need to be able to play those they are trying to catch.
During the final month of the season, they will have that opportunity.
From August 30 through September 26, the Bombers will face Boston and Baltimore seven times each and Tampa Bay three times.
That's 17 games against the three division foes ahead of them in the standings.
The Yankees are currently seven games behind Boston in the loss column, two behind Baltimore and six behind Tampa Bay.
Their fate sits squarely in their own hands.
Much will depend upon finally fielding a mostly healthy squad and carrying August's momentum into September, but the schedule-maker has certainly given them the keys to the kingdom.
Sure, there will be issues to deal with (there always are), but the team have not been better poised to make a run then they are now.
For the first time this season, the Yankees have good reasons to make October play a reality.
All unreferenced statistics courtesy of MLB.Com