The Yankees have spent the majority of the season on top of the American League East, but a steady stream of injuries the last few months are making things difficult for New York as they look to secure a postseason berth. While winning the division seemed looked like a forgone conclusion at the All-Star break, the chances of the Yankees missing the postseason are at the very least worthy of discussion. While the entire division has been blugeoned with visits to the disabled list this season, it's New York that has recently been kicked in the gut with key losses that may impact the stretch run.
After losing the first two games of a four-game series in Detroit last week, the Yankees were scuffling, having dropped 12 of 19 since going a season-high 23 games over .500. Not only were they losing games, but players as well, having shelved Alex Rodriguez in late July and C.C. Sabathia just this past weekend. With Mariano Rivera blowing out his knee and Andy Pettite suffering a broken ankle, it is entirely possible that injuries and age are starting to take a toll on this team like never before.
Despite an 8-2 win at home over the Rangers last night, a five-game lead is all that's holding off a surging Tampa Bay outfit, a team that has suddenly propelled itself to the top of the wild-card standings. The Orioles, a team that many have been waiting on to fade, stay the course and see themselves just a game behind the Rays. So with the three teams seperated by a mere five-and-a-half games, a spot in the playoffs becomes a tenuous proposition for the Yankees as the season enters its final month-and-a-half. The logjam currently seen in the wild-card chase provides even more problems for New York, as Detroit, Oakland, and Los Angeles still loom as well.
The Yankees have managed to stay ahead of the field despite the fact that their clubhouse has become something resembling a M.A.S.H. unit. When looking at the competition for postseason opportunities for New York, only Chicago is staying relevant with a lineup that has some age on it. Every other one of the teams vying for a playoff berth is doing so with lively young arms and bats. Is Father Time making a run at a franchise that has been so dominant for the past decade-and-a half?
Rivera's done for the year, while Rodriguez's return is tentatively slated for mid-September. Sabathia has come out said that he wants to minimize his stay on the disabled list, likely signaling that his health isn't at bad as it could be. Pettite, who knows? An initial prognosis of a six-week absense has now turned into TBA. A recent setback has the veteran lefty's return up in the air. The Yanks did manage to beef up the bullpen on Monday, signing 39-year old veteran Derek Lowe, who was released by the Indians after struggling in the second half of the season. Lowe pitched two scoreless innings of relief last night for the Yankees.