What it would take for the Yankees to Win the World Series?
by Cary Greene
August 17, 2022
Last week, I predicted the 2022 Yankees are going to win 94 games. I even went so far as to suggest that the Orioles have the best shot of catching the Yankees (and it would take a Yankee collapse to facilitate that).
This week, I’m going to examine what it would take for the Yankees to win the 2022 World-Series.
How Bad Are the Yankees Lately?
At the time of this writing, the Yankees have won 72 games and sit 28 games over .500 with FanGraphs giving the Bombers a 10% chance of winning the World Series, and a 95% chance of winning the Division. Said with sarcasm font engaged: The Yankees are so bad that every American League Team besides the Astros would love to have the Yankees problems. The Yankees still have about a 95% chance of clinching that all-important first-round bye and if the Bombers get said bye, that lifts them out of the scrum and puts them two series away from representing the American League in the 2022 World Series.
Right now, it really is about getting key-people healthy and finding some sort of rhythm for the stretch-run. If the Yankees can do that, they could actually still be in pretty wonderful shape. It’s true.
A pessimist would say that if the Playoffs were repeated ten-times, the Yankees might only win the grand prize a single time. They might argue that this team is only 16-23 (.410) since July 1st and that there is simply no way they can be remotely considered as a threat to win the World Series. They might say that too many key players are either lost for the season (Chad Green; Mike King; Matt Carpenter - perhaps; Stephen Ridings - most likely) or that there are just too many injured players who, when/if they return, there’s just no telling how impactful they can be (Luis Severin; Giancarlo Stanton; Zack Britton)?
What’s Really Happened to the Yankees?
Pessimists might reason the team is so cold lately, that what on God’s green Earth could possibly make them hot come October? They might say the pitching has imploded and it is there that they have an irrefutable point. Yankee pitching is allowing 2 ½ more Earned Runs (roughly) a game than it was during its peak - which was the entire month of June.
The Yankee offense meanwhile has slid off a cliff and the Yankees aren’t scoring at nearly the same clip they were. In the month of June, the Yankees Scored 5.5 runs a game and allowed 3.0 - which was good for a blisteringly good 22 -6 record and a Differential of +71. Believe it or not though, since then, the Yankees are surprisingly averaging 5.4 runs a game, while allowing 4.2 runs, with a differential of +47.
What’s really happened is that the Yankees are still winning a few games here and there fairly resoundingly, but they’re also losing a lot of close ones, ones they formerly won with consistent late game rallies. We can tell this because the bullpen isn’t holding leads and they’re also losing an unacceptably high number of games. In other-words: the other team is the one rallying. Of course the starters have also slipped noticeably, but the blame can be placed squarely on the back end of the Yankee bullpen. The seven blown saves in July and August really made all the negative difference in the world. Give the Yankees seven wins instead and suddenly, they’re a .500 team over that span, instead of being a .412 team. Then, if the Yankees win a couple one-run games like the eight they won in June - instead of losing the 12 they’ve lost since, and you basically have a team that’s fairly well on pace for 105 wins or more.
What Needs to Happen Between Now and the End of September?
Optimists may counter that the Yankees could get hot. It’s a soothing thought, but what would need to happen for that to occur and for the Yankees to carry some momentum into the playoffs. Yankee fans know that this team can rattle off not just a winning streak, but they’re capable of rolling for weeks on end - so what needs to happen for this to occur?
First and foremost, the Yankees need to start recording a save when a save is in reach. We’re talking about a Yankees team that averages 5 or more runs a game, the Yankees need to start making a lead stand up. Two things need to happen to make this a reality. The first is that Aaron Boone has to find some sort of trustable bridge-relief corps that he can begin to steadily hand the ball to. There’s no immediate urgency to this problem either. The Yankees could conceivably muddle along for another couple of weeks, winning 4 out 6 games or so, until they begin to solve this problem. They aren’t getting blown out. The optimist would say that most of the Yankees losses are actually fairly close games and they’d be correct.
Right now, the Yankees are prioritizing the hoarding of depth over being as good as they possibly could be. After all, how many trusted relievers has Aaron Boone really had this year? Chad Green, Ron Marinaccio, Wandy Peralta and Mike King? Well, Green and King are down for the season, but Cashman did trade for Scott Effross and Lou Trivino. Can they be Green and King? Probably not, in all honesty. With Albert Abreu out of options and the Yankees looking like they’d like to hang onto him permanently - September 1st may give the Yankees a chance to recall Marinaccio and also activate Luis Severino, which moves Domingo German into a long relief role. Suddenly, the Yankee bullpen could look a lot stronger and the starting rotation might get an uptick in performance also.
Some time in early or mid September, the Yankees will have the hardest pitching related roster-crunch decision they’ve faced in a long time - how to make room for Zack Britton? Could Britton return in the nick of time to shore up the back end of the Yankees bullpen and perhaps pitch himself into a rewarding contract for the 2023 season in the process? It’s a big “if” but should this occur and should Britton somehow find a way to be effective, that could help the bridge reliever corps quite a bit. Unfortunately, none of this will be enough, because if the Yankees can’t close games, they aren’t going to win a World Series. It’s really that simple.
What’s Really the Ultimate Answer then?
Is it fair to expect the Yankee offense to do better than it did in June? Giancarlo Stanton matters a lot to the offense, there is no question about that, but the presence of a middle of the lineup left handed bat to supplement Anthony Rizzo can’t be understated. Matt Carpenter meant a great deal to the Yankees ever since he burst onto the scene and losing him was a deflating and meaningful hit - in the name of lineup balance. Getting Carpenter back and hoping he can be productive will be the single, most significant story line for the Yankees in September.
However, there is another story line that is flying under the radar right now. Don’t look now, but Aroldis Chapman still has a pulse. He’s not dead. He’s not a retread. He’s touching 101mph on the radar gun at times and since July 26th, when he got his land legs back under him, his ERA is 0.00 across 9.1 bridge-relief innings, to go with 10 strikeouts and and only 1 walk. I dare say, the Cuban Missile may be back for one last pinstriped hurrah and he too has the incentive of pitching for a 2023 contract. I’d also like to remind Yankees fans everywhere, he’s a lefty who also happens to be tough on righties.
Hopefully Aaron Boone shows mercy and ends the Clay Holmes as the closer era, short lived as it was, then chooses at some point soon, to reinstate Aroldis Chapman as the Yankees closer. You see folks, Aroldis Chapman really is the answer. If not him, then who? Last I checked, David Bednars is still a Pirate and Joe Mantiply is still a Diamondback. David Robertson was traded to the Phillies of all teams! Though Brian Cashman didn’t make any of the pitching moves I wanted him to make, the Yankees might suddenly look a lot different with Chapman closing and Britton handing him the ball after the 8th-inning.
Then Scott Effross, Ron Marinaccio and company can focus on nailing down the sixth and seventh-innings, thereby shortening games.