While three teams in the AL West fight it out, the Yankees have the easiest remaining schedule. We delve into the numbers.
After Shoreline’s Blake Snell pitched the Rays to a 3-1 win versus the Yankees on Thursday, the Red Sox’s lead in the American League East grew to 10 1/2 games over their Gotham rivals.
The Red Sox have been on an unbelievable run, posting a 36-10 record over the last 46 games. And at 86-36, the Sox are eyeing the record of 116 wins set by the 2001 Mariners. They are on pace for 114 wins.
While the Red Sox’s lead in the East continues to grow, the Yankees’ lead for the American League wild card continues to shrink.
For the better part of the last six weeks it seemed a given that the AL wild-card game would be played at Yankee Stadium. For a while, the Mariners were expected to be the opponent in that game until about mid-July. Now it’s the streaking A’s, who have reeled off a stretch of outstanding baseball. Could that opponent become the scuffling Astros, who might lose their stranglehold on the AL West?
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Upon a closer look at the standings in the American League West and the AL wild card, the possibility that the wild-card game could be played at the decaying concrete eyesore that is the Oakland Coliseum, at the building that will no longer be known as Safeco Field after this season or the air-controlled, overamplified Minute Maid Field exists.
While the Red Sox run away with the AL East and the Indians cruise along atop the mediocrity of the AL Central, the AL West teams continues to cannibalize on each other. And the wild card? Well that’s no longer the Yankees and whoever else is left.
With that loss to the Rays on Thursday afternoon, it left the Yankees just three games up on the A’s for the first wild-card spot.
There are four teams in a weird mix, with three competing in the AL West.
With the Mariners having a day off, it provided a chance to look into the records and the upcoming schedules:
Yankees: 75-46 overall (40-20 home/33-26 road)
- 41 games remaining (19 home/22 road)
Astros: 74-47 overall (33-29 home/41-19 road)
- 41 games remaining (19 home/22 road)
Athletics: 72-49 overall (35-24 home/37-25 road)
- 41 games remaining (22 home/19 road)
Mariners: 70-52 overall (35-26 home/34-28 road)
- 40 games remaining (21 home/19 road)
With the help of Baseball Reference, Microsoft Excel and a few calls to more intelligent people, here’s an attempt to assess the remaining strength of schedule for the four teams.
Combined records of remaining opponents
- Yankees: 580-631 (. 479)
- Astros: 553-536 (. 508)
- Athletics: 488-481 (. 504)
- Mariners: 551-543 (. 504)
Games remaining vs. sub .500 teams/over .500 teams
- Yankees: 25 vs. sub .500 / 16 vs. over .500
- Astros: 13 vs. sub .500 / 28 vs. over .500
- Athletics: 13 vs. sub .500 / 28 vs. over .500
- Mariners: 14 vs. sub .500 / 26 vs. over .500
Playing in the American League East helps the Yankees — when they aren’t playing Boston. They have seven games against the horrendous Orioles (36-85), who have the worst record in baseball, plus three against the White Sox (44-76), who have the third worst record in baseball. The Yankees do have three-game road series at Oakland and Seattle and six left against rival Boston.
The similarity of schedule strength of the American League West teams is due to having to playing each other. All three teams have two remaining series — one at home and one on the road — against each other. The division has four teams with winning record.
Something to watch that could be beneficial given their road record, the Astros’ final seven games are on the road — three against the Blue Jays and the final four versus the Orioles. The last four games against a team that quit in May will could allow Houston to solidify its spot in the final days of the season. The A’s finish on the road with three at Seattle and three in Anaheim.
The Mariners, on a quest for their first postseason appearance since 2001, have 16 games remaining against the other three teams in this race, including seven critical games versus the A’s. They play just three teams with sub .500 records, but one of those teams is the Rangers who are 6-6 against the Mariners.
The Yankees have the easiest path for the postseason. But Aaron Judge isn’t expected to return from a wrist injury any time soon, and Gary Sanchez and CC Sabathia are also on the disabled list.
Will the A’s regress from a torrid run that includes a 38-13 record since mid-June? How can a starting rotation with Brett Anderson, Edwin Jackson and Trevor Cahill continue to win?
The Astros get George Springer back from the disabled list for Friday’s big series in Oakland. Jose Altuve’s return is about a week away.
And the Mariners? Well, Robinson Cano’s return is supposed to provide a boost. But the injury to James Paxton and 12 of their next 14 games versus teams with winning records, including four with Oakland, could be decisive.
Three teams from the AL West trying to grab three playoff spots with plenty of head-to-head matchups and the most visible team in baseball trying to hang on to a playoff spot should make for an entertaining six weeks.
The highly detailed research in spreadsheet form …