It’s more than just a possibility that the Yankees could claim one of the two Wild-Card playoff spots. They actually have one of the easier schedules of the teams in the hunt.
Heading into Friday’s game against the Padres, the Yankees are 3.5 games out of the second Wild-Card spot. Texas and Baltimore are tied at a half-game behind the Indians and the Rays are four games up in the Wild-Card race and have their sites set on the AL East.
But while the Yankees are the farthest away of those five teams, their schedule is relatively favorable.
Here’s how each of the quintet’s final two months are set to play out:
Games left: 55 – 29 against teams with sub-.500 records (Padres, White Sox, Angels Blue Jays, Giants, Astros) and 26 against teams over .500 (Tigers, Orioles, Rays, Red Sox).
The good: The Yankees get Curtis Granderson back on Friday, which should add a boost to their lineup, and play more than half their games against relatively bad baseball teams. They’ll also have ample opportunity to sink the hopes of the Rays and Orioles.
The bad: The Rays and Orioles (never mind Red Sox) have just as much of a chance to sink the Yankees.
Games left: 54 – 32 against teams with sub-.500 records (Mets, White Sox, Astros, Marlins, Angels, Twins), 22 against teams over .500 (Royals, Tigers, Orioles, Braves, Athletics).
The good: Their schedule is even easier than the Yankees.
The bad: The Mets have played better recently and may not be a walkover. Also, the Royals are surging and the Tigers have incentive to deal a knockout punch to their division rivals given that the Indians are breathing down Detroit’s neck in the AL Central race.
Games left: 54 – 25 against teams with sub-.500 records (Giants, Mariners, Blue Jays, Angels, Twins), 29 against teams over .500 (Yankees, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Royals, Orioles, Athletics, Red Sox, Rangers).
The good: They were one of the hottest teams in July (along with the Dodgers) and look to carry that over into August and September.
The bad: They have to face three of the teams chasing the Wild-Card.
Games left: 53 – 21 against teams with sub-.500 records (Mariners, Padres, Giants, Rockies, White Sox, Blue Jays), 32 against teams over .500 (Diamondbacks, Athletics, Rays, Yankees, Indians, Red Sox).
The good: Not a whole lot.
The bad: They have the toughest schedule left of the current Wild-Card contenders, playing the majority of their remaining schedule against winning teams, including 23 against the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox.
Games left: 53 – 24 against teams with sub-.500 records (Astros, Brewers, Mariners, White Sox, Twins), 19 against teams over .500 (Royals, Rays, Athletics, Pirates).
The good: They have, by far, the easiest schedule of the current Wild-Card contenders and have nine remaining games against the Athletics to try and wrestle away the AL West title.
The bad: Of their 19 games against teams with winning records, 16 of them come in September. While August should be a relative cakewalk, September could see a swoon (again). Also, the struggling offense may soon lose Nelson Cruz, who’s reportedly in danger of being suspended as part of the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug investigation.