Some Yankees math

The Yankees are now 69-42, which puts them on a pace for 101 wins. Let’s say the Yankees maintain that pace — they don’t get better and they don’t get worse. The Red Sox would need to win 102 games to take the division title. Given their present record of 62-48, the Red Sox would need to win 40 of their remaining 52 games, or 77 percent. That’s equivalent to winning 125 games over a full season.

While not impossible, it’s also not likely. Consider an alternative scenario, one in which the Yankees somehow have a rough go of it the rest of the way and play a game under .500 for the remainder of the schedule. In that case, the Yankees would finish at 94-68. To reach 95 wins, the Red Sox would need to go 33-19. That’s a .635 winning percentage, in the realm of possibility, but it still requires Boston to spend one third of the season playing as if they were a 103-win team. Obviously, for any team behind the Red Sox, such as the Rays, to displace the Yankees, the road is that much harder.

In short: While you can never take anything for granted, this sweep has put the Yankees in a very, very good place.

Taking the Yankees’ initial 0-8 against the Red Sox out of the equation, New York is 69-34 (.670), and Boston is 54-48 (.529). Those wins by the Red Sox were legitimate, but now seem like a fluke event. The record the rest of the way is simply not comparable. The 2009 Yankees could be a team we will remember. However, much remains to be done. As I pointed out yesterday, the Yankees have had “special” teams in recent years that didn’t bring him any rings. The 2002, 2003, and 2004 Yankees all won over 100 games and were, respectively, bounced out of the first round of the playoffs by the Angels team they can’t seem to beat, mismanaged to a loss in the World Series, and the victims of a historic reversal of fortune against the Red Sox in the ’04 ALCS. The intensity that the Yankees showed in this series, particularly on the pitching side, has to carry over or the events of the past weekend will end up as little more than a footnote.

Like all of you, I was initially shocked and appalled at Phil “Home Run” Coke pitching to right-handed batters in the eighth inning, and doubly appalled when premonitions of doom proved to be highly accurate. I’m not going to criticize the manager for that call, not with too much conviction, anyway. For obvious reasons, Joe Girardi had not let the world know that the bullpen was mostly off-limits. I will say that if Girardi really has an ironclad aversion to using pitchers in three consecutive games (a quick look at the record shows that Joe Borowski pitched in four straight games in August 2006 and pitched in three straight games on one other occasion that year; Matt Herges also did so once. Jose Veras appeared in three straight games without an off-day twice last August, and Damaso Marte pitched in four straight games during the same period) then his usage of Hughes for one out in each of the previous two games was shortsighted.

Today will bring more in the way of decisions and bullpen usage because Sergio Mitre is pitching, which is another way of saying that Chad Gaudin will be making his Yankees debut in the fourth or fifth inning. Mitre is 11-23 with a 5.48 ERA in his career, and he’s been lambasted this season. It’s not clear why the Yankees are persevering with him, especially since Brian Cashman has secured the team a better alternative in Gaudin. If the postseason is truly assured, or at least likely, the fifth starter is now auditioning for a role in the bullpen. Try to imagine the circumstances in which Girardi would call Mitre in during a playoff game. No, I can’t think of one either.

The Blue Jays are 12-19 since the end of June. The Yankees will miss Roy Halladay in this series, which means they have a more than fair chance to keep their winning streak alive. That’s if they don’t throw it away on one more Mitre adventure. The only way the club can lose now is to take things for granted, and pitching Mitre is doing just that.



    Simply put, one of the better Yankee series late in the season. True to Yankee form, they heat up in August and steamroll a division rival. Couldn’t have happened at a better time.

    Must be a bum day for RedSox nation today!!!!!!

  2. webcor1

    Gotta agree with you. I fully expected Girardi to bring in Hughes to pitch the 8th, even more so after Coke struck out Ellsbury.
    Hughes has been great, and has thrown only a handful of pitches lately. The win was terrific, of course, but I think Girardi got away with a wrong move. Bring Hughes in to pitch to one batter at a time but let Coke pitch to three or four? Makes no sense to me.

  3. pazer

    I thought Hughes was the eighth inning bridge, why must joe expierment with people like mitre, cody ransom etc. when he has what he has. I think he outthinks himself.

  4. buzah

    I think the Sox could be in legitimate decline. While Beckett and Lester are a top two, they miss Manny and Ortiz. Of course Ortiz is still with them, but no longer a player who can effect much strategy. We were content to let RHP David Robertson K him to end the game Saturday, for example. I think the Mark Teixeira miss will turn out to have historic impact.

    What’s more, I think their farm isn’t quite what BA and ESPN would have us believe it was, otherwise, they’d be reaching there for a shortstop or a pitcher, instead of claimining Woodward.

    And beyond the two starters the rotation is unimpressive. Bucholz will not keep running into line-ups that played till dawn in the previous game. And people will realize he pitches backwards because he lacks fastball control and start crushing those changeups.

    They have a bunch of old position players, a continuing issue at SS and P and coming problems at C and in the OF. They don’t have immediate solutions on the farm and what they have didn’t seem to be able to get them AGon at the deadline. They’re gonna have to do something crazy this offseason like they did when they blew out the blind bidding for DiceK and it’s going to be interesting to see if it works.

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