Every year the race for the division title in the A.L East is exciting to the end. Clearly, this year is no different. Following this weekend's series with the Blue Jays, the Yankees finish up with two series against the Rays and one against the Red Sox.
The A.L East victor is far from being crowned as much can still happen. However, as it stands the Red Sox are reeling and hanging on to the Wild Card by a thread. They currently hold a three game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays (who they play over the weekend) and a four game hold over the Los Angeles Angels.
The Boston Red Sox are currently on a 3-11 stretch to start the month of September and are in danger of losing their playoff berth.
This article examines 10 things that the continual Red Sox collapse would mean to the New York Yankees. To me, a Red Sox collapse is only in effect if they fail to make the postseason.
Simply put, the Red Sox were one of the top three teams in the league all season, along with the Yankees and Phillies. If you remove your best competition from the playoffs, it makes your quest to the World Series that much easier (it's like Sampras not having to play Agassi in a major or a No. 1 seed being ousted in your section of the NCAA bracket).
Moreover, the Yankees are 7-2 against the Rangers this year and have a winning record against the Rays. They are 3-4 against the Tigers but have not played since May. If they manhandle the Rangers, can usually beat the Rays and don’t let Verlander win 4 games against them, who poses a threat other than the Sox?
It's easy to argue that if the Boston Red Sox aren't in the playoffs then the Yankees will be the biggest market team in the postseason, especially in the A.L.
With less media attention going towards the Red Sox, the Yankees would receive further exposure (as if they need it).
Moreover, they would receive coverage that would normally be reserved for the Red Sox. I’m sure the extra exposure will help pay for some of the luxury tax that the Yankees owe.
Josh Beckett has had some sort of a renaissance this season, compared to his awful 2010. Not only is Beckett having arguably one of his best statistical seasons, but he is also well known for his excellent postseason showings.
Beckett owns a career postseason WHIP of 0.97, that alone shows that he can be as dominate as anyone in the playoffs.
Moreover, Beckett is 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA / 0.94 WHIP and a 10.05 K/9 against the Yankees this season.
Jon Lester has become one of the best pitchers in the league. By his standards, his 2011 has been average at 15-7 with a 3.07 ERA.
Lester has a winning record against the Yankees this season and is 8-2 lifetime against them with 105 strikeouts in 97 innings. With a 1-2 punch of Beckett and Lester the Red Sox clearly have an upper hand when it comes to pitching.
Although Beckett has a ridiculous postseason WHIP, Lester’s career postseason ERA is pretty solid itself at 2.57.
It has been known that Sabathia has struggled against the Red Sox this season. On the season C.C. is 1-4 with a 6.39 E.R.A and 1.77 WHIP against Boston.
C.C. is, without question, the ace of the Yankees' staff and would most likely have to pitch on short rest in order to start two games against the Red Sox in a playoff series. With these awful numbers, C.C. has not shown the ability to dominate this lineup.
Without C.C’s dominance, the Yankees must rely on very questionable pitchers in the postseason in Bartolo Colon (age: 38), Ivan Nova ( 0 playoff experience), Phil Hughes (E.R.A: 6.00), A.J. Burnett (E.R.A: 5.20) and Freddy Garcia (age: 35).
Not very menacing.
The Tampa Bay Rays have a very solid pitching staff and are currently the 5th best team in the AL (visit my previous article which demonstrates how tough the A.L East is and how their record is not necessarily representative of the quality of their team.) That being said, if the Yankees had to face the Rays instead of the Red Sox they would be overjoyed.
The Rays do not have the hitting, and they do not come close to comparing to the Red Sox lineup. The Rays currently rank 27th in the MLB in batting average whereas the Red Sox rank second. The Red Sox are arguably the best offense in baseball whereas the Rays are average.
As good as Price and Shields are, they could not shut down the Yankees' lineup the way C.C. can shut down the Rays (he already has one shutout against them this season.)
Simply put, the Yankees are 4-11 against the Red Sox this season. There is only one other team in the MLB that the Yankees have a losing record against (they are 3-4 against the Tigers, whom they have not played since May 5th).
If the Red Sox were to fully collapse and miss the playoffs, the Yankees would be very relieved that they do not have to play a team that has tormented them all season. Do the Yankees have enough pitching to compete against a Red Sox team that is in the top three in every offensive category?
Interesting Note: If you take away all of the Red Sox/Yankee matchups on the season, the Yankees would have an insurmountable lead atop the A.L. East and the BoSox would be in third place in the Wild Card standings.
This slide does not need any introduction. Everyone in the U.S. knows what happened during those fateful days in mid-October. The Red Sox made history with their series win and the bloody sock became a well known phrase.
No matter how long it has been, this still stings the Yankees and in any playoff series against them, this will undoubtedly be in the back of their minds.
With the Red Sox not making the playoffs, the historic days of the 2004 ALCS would never cause a worry during the Yankees' 2011 playoff run.
The Boston Red Sox are notorious for getting really hot following a bad losing streak. A couple of times this season the Red Sox have had a bad losing streak only to come back sizzling hot and run off several consecutive wins.
This season alone, following the Sox dismal 2-10 start, they turned around and won eight of their next nine. Moreover, later on in the season when they went 1-4 they followed with three straight wins. Later that month they went 3-5, only to follow with a 13-2 record. To end the month of May, the Sox lost four straight. What happened after that? They won nine in a row and 12 of 13.
The Red Sox have the uncanny ability to turn a losing streak into an impressive hot streak. If they do in fact make the playoffs you can bet that they will be coming in hot and ready to dominate, which can only spell trouble for their opponents.
The rivalry between these two teams is, well, unrivaled. There is no bigger rivalry in sports and being able to achieve success at the hands of their rival means much more than a win against the Orioles.
With such a deep history, anytime one team makes the playoffs and the other doesn’t, there is a great sense of pride among the successful team. This ranges from the players to the ownership and all the way to the fans. Knowing that you beat out your rival in the standings and that they are not even in the playoffs would give all those in the Yankees' organization a great sense of superiority.
This will definitely be an interesting couple of weeks to end the regular season. The last season series between the Red Sox and Yankees, from the 23rd to the 25th of September, will certainly be heated and provide great entertainment for everyone.