Yankees end the season at 99, get 5 days to become playoff ready

Yankees getting ready for playoffs
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
Sara Molnick
Thursday October 6, 2022

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ARLINGTON, Texas — The Yankees’ exciting regular season in 2022 ended with a 4-2 loss to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night. After a great first half and a tough second half, the Yankees ended the season with a 99-63 record, which is their most wins since 2019.

Many of the Yankees performed exceptionally well. For instance, Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes pitched excellently this season. But the star outfielder Aaron Judge‘s historic season is likely to be what people will cherish to remember this regular season. He impressed his teammates, opponents, and fans alike with his great hitting. He almost won a triple crown, and on Tuesday, he hit 62 home runs in one season, which is a new American League record.

Since they got one of the top two seeds in the American League, the Yankees, who won the East division, got to skip the first round of the playoffs. This weekend, while the best-of-three wild-card round is going on, the Yankees will be resting their tired muscles, practicing, talking about how to make their roster, and watching and planning for their possible opponent. They won’t play a game, though, until Tuesday, when they play the winner of Cleveland and Tampa Bay in the first game of their AL division series.

The last time the Yankees didn’t play for five days was in the middle of March when their spring training games started. (The Yankees’ All-Star break was only three days long, in the middle of July.) Baseball is a sport that people play almost every day for a long time. The 162-game regular season began on April 7, and the World Series is set to end on November 5, if it goes the full seven games.

But during talks about a new collective bargaining agreement last winter, the owners of Major League Baseball teams and the players agreed to increase the number of teams in the postseason from 10 to 12. This meant that the schedule needed some changes. The wild-card round changed to the best-of-three-series format this year, and each league gave the best two division winners a bye into the first round.

Because of this, the Yankees, the Astros, the Dodgers, and the Braves have a very un-baseball-like break before their playoff games.

The five days off might be advantageous for a banged-up squad (the Yankees) or bad for a club (Atlanta) or players like Astros’ Jose Altuve, who has an average of .444 in his last 14 games. In recent seasons, the World Series has been won by the hottest team, not necessarily the best.

“It’s probably a good thing, right?” Aaron Boone, who is the manager of the Yankees, said about the five-days rest.

Boone said he was sure his team could make it through the break because baseball has changed a lot over the years. Nothing can be like the end of a game when the score is tied, the crowd is roaring, nerves are frayed, and the other team’s closer is throwing fastballs at 98 miles per hour. But training tools like virtual reality or high-speed pitching machines can help players prepare in some ways by simulating some of these things.

“Where we as a sport, as far as things you’re able to replicate and do behind the scenes, training wise, the quality of technology that you have to be able to see different pitches, velocity and breaking balls,” Boone said.

He also said that during the time between games, the Yankees will have their batters face as many live pitches as possible and have their pitchers throw as much live batting practice as possible. Boone also told, “I think we should be able to stay pretty sharp for the next five days. And, after a 162-game season, hopefully, benefit from the rest that comes with that.”

According to pitcher Jameson Taillon:

“It’s going to help that we have a lot of veterans on our team, who know how they need to prepare and how their timing needs to be on the hitting side and the pitchers what kind of aggression you need through your bullpens and stuff. I really think that experience is going to help us. These guys know, regardless of the circumstances. They’ll be ready.”

Since the Yankees have had a lot of injuries in the second half of the season, especially in the bullpen, they could use the extra days to give the players more time to heal.

All-Star Clay Holmes has started throwing again after getting an epidural shot in his sore right shoulder. He is expected to be ready for the A.L.D.S. Wandy Peralta is working to come back from a back injury. He is a key left-handed reliever for the Yankees. Frankie Montas and Ron Marinaccio may not be able to play again until the AL Championship Series if the Yankees make it that far.

Even though Zack Britton, Chad Green, Michael King, Jonathan Loáisiga, and Aroldis Chapman all had injuries or were inconsistent, the Yankees’ bullpen had one of the best ERAs in baseball during the regular season. Boone said that he had “really good options” going into the playoffs and that “it’s probably not going to be those traditional roles.”

As for position players, second baseman Gleyber Torres, who missed the last few games due to illness, could use the time to finish getting better. Before he broke his foot in early August, Matt Carpenter was a big boost to the Yankees’ lineup. He has been working hard to get back in time. The Yankees are also keeping an eye on outfielder Andrew Benintendi as he works his way back into hitting after breaking a bone in his hand.

Cole played his last game of the regular season on Tuesday night against the Rangers. He won’t play Game 1 of the ALDS until a week from now. He said that this time without games didn’t bother the Yankees.

How do you see the Yankees’ regular season? How far they will go in the postseason?

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