Larry Mahnken and SG's

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog

"Hey, it's free!"

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has moved!  Our new home is:

Larry Mahnken
Sean McNally
Fabian McNally
John Brattain

This is an awesome FREE site, where you can win money and gift certificates with no skill involved! If you're bored, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!


Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

August 29, 2005

by Larry Mahnken

The Red Sox are currently experiencing what the Yankees went through the last couple of seasons, though obviously not to the same extreme. They're cruising along, playing good baseball, and then they hit a rough patch, but still manage to play above .500. But here comes the Yankees, 13-4 since August 11th, compared to Boston's 8-7. Every night you look at the scoreboard, there's another Yankees win. Even down 4 runs with 1 out in the ninth on Saturday, they come back and win. A once comfortable lead of 5½ games is cut down to a mere 1½ games.

The Yankees headed to Boston after the All-Star Break in third place, just 2½ games out of first place, 2 in the loss column. Immediately, they lost Chien-Ming Wang to a shoulder injury, perhaps for the entire season. Carl Pavano was already hurt, and would soon be gone for the season, and Kevin Brown's season quickly ended after trying to make rehab starts in the major leagues.

They had two starters -- Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina. The rest of their rotation was going to have to be patched together. Darrell May and Tim Redding were bombed by the Indians and Red Sox, the Yankees would have to turn to Al Leiter (6.64 ERA), Aaron Small (5.49 career ERA, no starts since 1996) and Shawn Chacon (4.09 ERA, 5.20 career ERA).

And it was worse, the average record of their opponents over the next 30 games coming out of the break was 49-38, a .563 Winning Percentage, and 17 of those games were on the road. A log5 projection for those 30 games was 14-16, and it could just as easily be worse as better, especially considering the injuries.

In the meantime, the Red Sox were playing teams with an average record of 44-43, and they were projected to go 17-12. That would put them 6 games up in mid-August, and essentially end the AL East race.

The Sox did, in fact, exceed their projection. The last game of the stretch was rained out, but they went 19-9 overall, and had the Yankees played to their projection, they'd be 8½ games out of first place. Dead.

Instead, the Yankees went 18-12 over their killer stretch, stayed just 4½ back, just barely in the race. And a hot stretch has put them right back on Boston's tail.

In each of the last two seasons, the Yankees had had a relatively easy stretch in late-Jul/mid-August while the Red Sox had a killer stretch over the same period. Each time, the Yankees had a chance to end the AL East race, but each time the Red Sox streaked back into contention. Those were lost opportunites for the Yankees, and they were forced to beat Boston off in September to win the division. Now the Red Sox have lost an opportunity to bury the Yankees, and will have to fight them off in September to win the division.

And things are looking up for the Yanks. The starting pitching has been generally good recently, and has pitched deep into games, giving Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera desperately needed rest. They've made Tony Womack obsolete with the trade for Matt Lawton, and the move should also keep Bernie Williams out of the field most of the time, as well as keeping Tino Martinez on the bench. Chien-Ming Wang and Ruben Sierra might actually come back soon, giving the rotation and bench a boost.

And the schedule is an advantage for the Yankees now, too. The rest of the way, the Yankees' opponents have a .478 winning percentage, while Boston's have a .507 W%. Even if you take Boston's 21 remaining home games into account (out of 34 overall games), the Yankees still have an easier schedule, .487-.495. That won't be enough of an edge to make up the 2 games they need to, but if the Yankees win 4 of 6 against Boston instead of splitting, as log5 would project, then there's your 2 games right there.

This West Coast trip is important. The Yankees need to come back winning at least 4 of 7, and they haven't been at their best on the road this season.