Is Derek Jeter the Final Piece to Yankees Pulling Off Late-Season Surge?

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIAugust 21, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 13:  Injured Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees has a laugh in the batting cage during practice before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium on August 13, 2013  in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The New York Yankees have been a curious case all year.

Despite the injuries and distractions, the Yankees aren't out of the playoff race yet, sitting 6.5 games back in the AL East and five games back in the wild card.

Now, Derek Jeter is getting closer to returning:

Jeter originally broke his left ankle during the ALCS in October. He's had multiple setbacks this year, including a strained right quadriceps and a calf injury.

Despite that, the Yankees have stayed afloat with Jeter on the DL for most of the year.

Ever since the acquisition of Alfonso Soriano, the Yankees seem to be hitting better and have gone 12-11, including winning eight of their last 10.

But will the return of Jeter help the Yankees pull off a late-season surge?

The Schedule

Entering Wednesday, the Yankees still have a schedule where they can make a run.

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With 30 of their remaining games against divisional opponents, series wins could translate into an improvement in the standings.

Still left are eight games with the Toronto Blue Jays, seven games each with the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, and six games with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Then there's the three-game series to end the year against the Houston Astros. If the Yankees are close to a playoff berth at that point, that series gives them a definite advantage.

Injuries Galore

Any competent Yankees fan knows what Jeter brings to the table. However, the biggest question has to be health.

If you recall, Jeter suffered a small crack near his fractured ankle during spring training. That forced him on the disabled list until July 11. Then, in his first game back, Jeter suffered a quad strain, landing him back on the DL.

He returned on July 28, only to go back on the DL eight days later with a calf strain.

The last two can be attributed to age. After all, Jeter is 39 and no longer a spring chicken.

Jeter can bring a lot to the lineup, but he has to be able to stay healthy to do so.


If fans are depending on Jeter to be that final piece to push them over the top, then they're only going to be disappointed.

Jeter hasn't shown he can stay healthy this year and that's what the Yankees need.

The team is in a good rhythm right now and should keep it up without Jeter on the field.

It must be noted, the Yankees are 10-1 against the Blue Jays this year, while holding a 6-7 record against the Rays and a 5-7 record against the Red Sox and Orioles.

If they can improve just a little against the other teams in the division (outside of the Blue Jays), the Yankees will be there.

However, it won't be because of Jeter.