With a nice series win over the weekend in Chicago, combined with the Tampa Bay Rays taking two of three against the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees now have a 6.5-game lead over the Red Sox for a playoff spot.
While no lead is insurmountable (right, 2008 Mets?), there is a really good chance the Yankees will be playoff-bound.
With the Minnesota Twins now having a 1.5-game lead over the Texas Rangers for the second best division record, it might even be better for the Yankees to not win the division.
Their pitching matches up better against the Twins' lineup, and the Yankee rotation would likely suffer more against Josh Hamilton and Co. in a first round matchup.
With the waiver deadline ending tomorrow, teams are jockeying for position to get their August 31st rosters set.
But why? The MLB rule states that any player in the organization on August 31st is eligible for the postseason if they are on the list of eligible players.
This list is generally assumed to be the 40-man roster, and that is true, but that list can be expanded.
Playoff rosters must be set at 25, not including disabled players, on August 31. For each player on the 60-day DL, teams may add players to the eligible list during the playoffs provided that they were in the organization on August 31. Teams must choose 25 players from their playoff-eligible list before each round of the playoffs.
For an example, let's look at the 2009 New York Yankees.
On August 31st (my birthday, by the way) last season, both Xavier Nady and Chien-Ming Wang were on the Yankees' 60 day DL, and Brett Gardner was on the 15-day DL. That gave the Yankees a pool of 28 players from which to choose their 25-man playoff roster.
An injured player can be substituted for by another player who is on the 40-man roster. The Yankees added Freddy Guzman to "replace" Nady, and Guzman was on the Yankees' postseason roster.
In 2002, Francisco Rodriguez was not called up by the Angels until mid-September, had all of five innings pitched that month, and was on the playoff roster. He ended up winning five games that postseason!
According to this unpublicized rule, a team must replace position with position. An outfielder in Nady needed to be replaced with an outfielder in Guzman.
But I also read somewhere that it does not have to be position by position.
For example, in 2007, Jacoby Ellsbury was NOT on the Boston 25-man roster on August 31st of that season, but he was eligible for the playoffs as he replaced Brendan Donnelly, a pitcher, who was on the 60-day Boston DL at the time.
This move on the roster must be reviewed and approved by the Commissioner's office.
Current New York Yankees on the DL include Nick Johnson (60-day DL) and Alfredo Aceves (60-day DL). Aceves is likely to come back off that DL, but the Yankees do have another roster spot that can be added with another player.
Therefore, the Yankees could add any player who is in their organization on August 31st for any playoff series roster to "replace" Johnson, and that player does not even have to have major league experience or be the same position! Just be on the 40-man roster sometime in September and get the Commissioner's office to approve.
Therefore, all players in the organization can all be on the playoff roster for the ALDS and further series.
With the way Jesus Montero has been hitting over the last two months, and with tremendous power to right field, his right-handed bat could pay dividends for the Yankees in the postseason. He could play for Scranton in the playoffs in September and still help the major league club later on.
Or if the Yankees feel that Damaso Marte or Aceves is not ready and won't be a factor in the postseason, they could keep Aceves on the 60-day DL and then allow someone like Jonathan Albaladejo and his 43 saves this season to pitch in October.
Lots of opportunities for the Yankees to add Montero and others to the postseason roster.