With four games left in the regular season the Yankees are still right in the thick of a race for a wild card spot.
While they currently hold the first wild card spot it is very plausible that they could miss out based on the schedules of all of the other teams in the race. The Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Mariners are all within two games of each other and only two teams will make it.
The Yankees finish the season with one game against the Blue Jays and three against the Rays who thankfully do not have much to play for after clinching home-field advantage in the American League. The Red Sox and Blue Jays finish with three games against weak opponents in the Orioles and Nationals, while the Mariners face the Angels. The picture likely will not be clear until after game 162, and even then there is potential for a tiebreaker game 163. A win tonight against the Blue Jays would go a long way towards securing a spot for the Yankees.
No matter what chaos ensues this weekend the Yankees have set themselves up to become an elite team in the 2022 MLB season with what they have done this year. As discussed in my latest article about the upcoming shortstop free agents, the Yankees have reset the luxury tax penalties and will likely be bigger spenders this offseason than last offseason.
One of the biggest reasons for optimism heading into 2022 is what pitching coach Matt Blake has done this season. The Yankees currently have the best ERA in the American League. They had not been in the top 10 in the league as a pitching staff since the 2017 season. Director of pitching Sam Briend, who previously worked at Driveline is likely also having an impact on this.
Without even spending money on the starting pitching staff the Yankees can go into 2022 with rotation that looks like this:
That looks like a pretty good rotation and does not even consider prospects like Luis Medina or Clarke Schmidt. It would also be shocking if the Yankees did not spend some sort of money on a depth starter.
Throwin' 99 for his first Major League strikeout ?
Congrats Luis Gil ? pic.twitter.com/vVKXiDVApW
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 3, 2021
The outfield looks pretty good as well. As of right now these are the players who will be on the team next year:
This could use a depth signing, but that would be all that is needed to feel really good about this group. Most would imagine that Stanton will start the year as a designated hitter again, but who knows because he seems to be handling playing in the outfield pretty well right now. Hicks has regressed defensively and I would like to see him potentially moved to playing left field. Given his recent injury history it would not be wise to count on a full season from Hicks as well. Hopefully Eric Cressey’s new training routine for Judge and Stanton keeps them healthy again like they have been this season.
GIANCARLO STANTON CRUSHES THE GO-AHEAD GRAND SLAM AT FENWAY ?
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) September 25, 2021
The infield is an area where changes are most likely to happen. Luke Voit was heavily in trade conversations this deadline, and a player like Gio Urshela is someone the Yankees could move off of if the right opportunity comes along. Along with the laundry list of good shortstops that are available this offseason, players like Jose Ramirez and Matt Olson could potentially be traded from their teams as well. It would be a shock if the Yankees did not make changes to significantly improve their infield for the 2022 season.
Hopefully we can hold off on having the conversation about what the Yankees should do this offseason for a bit longer because we have a playoff run to talk about. If that does not happen then this could end up being the winter of endless possibilities for the Yankees.
Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images