Going deep into the MLB playoffs is a challenge each year, and that will remain true for the Yankees this year if certain factors don’t go their way come October. Now of course, this is true for any team that intends on contending for a World Series title; but specifically, for the Yankees, these are three things that could alter their hopes of adding to their lore of postseason success.
- Which Aaron Judge will show up?
It’s no secret Aaron Judge struggled tremendously in the second half of the season after his historical rookie frenzy where he took the league and the nation by storm mashing 30 home runs in just 84 games. It was almost as if April through June might have been an aberration, considering his awful numbers following his Home Run Derby victory. However, Judge seems to have rediscovered his power stroke once the calendar flipped to September, slugging 11 home runs and driving in 23 runs so far this month. Is he getting hot just in time for a potential MVP push? Or will he revert to his .185/.353/.326 August self when the lights shine brightest in October?
- Will Dellin Betances find himself?
After an elite August, posting a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings while striking out 17, Dellin Betances is having a dreadful September for the second season in a row. With a recurring lack of control of his fastball and lack of bite on his breaking ball, the 29-year old New York native finds himself almost without a role heading into the postseason. He is a member of an absolutely elite bullpen that consists of Adam Warren (2.40 ERA), Tommy Kahnle (2.52 ERA), Chad Green (1.90 ERA), David Robertson (1.96 ERA) and Aroldis Chapman (3.42 ERA). With All-Star appearances in four straight seasons, Betances certainly has already established himself as one of the premier relievers in baseball, but also one of the most inconsistent. Put him in a crucial postseason spot, he may baffle you with his astonishing stuff or agonize you with consecutive walks and lack of control.
- Will Gary Sanchez’s defense hold up?
After following up his breakout rookie season with another outstanding showing of power and timely hitting, it’s clear Gary Sanchez is on his way to becoming the best offensive catcher in the league, but his defense isn’t quite up to par. His 15 passed balls are tied for the most in baseball along with Dodger Yasmani Grandal, and his 12 errors are the most in the league. These eye-opening stats validate any cause for concern Yankee manager Joe Girardi may have when it comes to starting the 2017 All-Star in this year’s AL Wild Card game behind the plate. His backup catcher, Austin Romine, isn’t anything close to the offensive threat Sanchez is, but most definitely has better blocking capabilities along with a reputation of calling a better game for his pitchers. Credit where credit is due, Gary Sanchez has improved his defense since his benching in an early August series in Cleveland. Although, not enough to make you feel completely comfortable with him behind the dish come this October.
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