By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
Next Tuesday evening, the Yankees will open the playoffs either in Chicago or Minnesota.
Is there any difference between the two? In all likelihood, the Yankees will take a trip to Minnesota, the team they have handled in recent years. If tangle with Chicago, they have been freefalling lately just like the Bronx Bombers.
But this isn’t’ about their perspective opponent. Instead, it is all about them.
On paper, the Yankees have all the tools for a postseason run. But do they have the right mindset and drive? Will their psyche be in the right place?
Currently, it appears their confidence level doesn’t match the talent one. Manager Aaron Boone has stated several times that his team can play better. You have seen that they can even during a 60-game season.
Take their last two lackluster consecutive showings in Toronto, dropping four of their last five. Gary Sanchez, who is hitting half of his weight, had a potential game-winning, eighth-inning, grand slam caught at the centerfield wall Thursday night.
Heading into their final weekend against Miami, the Yankees continue to ride a roller coaster type of season with their hitting and pitching that easily has exhibited their strengths and weaknesses. Yes, it is an unorthodox season, but the Yankees haven’t shown the kind of expected consistent dominance with a presumed stacked staff and lineup.
The gut feeling has been uneasy all season. Think about it. How do you honestly feel about their chances starting Tuesday?
Injuries again are on the agenda with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton at the top of the list. There were many others, and once one happened, it spread as quickly as a summer wildfire.
There’s the moving Sanchez saga, and manger Aaron Boone has strongly hinted that backup with Kyle Higashioka could be behind the plate in the postseason.
Luke Voit has reached his potential and beyond, and he and DJ LeMahieu are legitimate MVP candidates.
Clint Frazier isn’t a league MVP hopeful, but he certainly is a team MVP. He has been sound and steady with his bat and glove.
Gerrit Cole has looked like nearly every penny the team paid him, while Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ have had their issues. Jordan Montgomery’s return could be a big lift. Devi Garcia is the current wildcard to the postseason and rookie Clarke Schmidt closes out the regular season Sunday.
Aroldis Chapman is back, but his consistency isn’t. The overall unit still is among the best.
Put it all together, and you have a team that can make a run to their 28th championship.
It has been a long wait since 2009. One of the primary reasons they signed Cole was for his recent postseason log.
The real baseball begins Tuesday. And we’ll know if the real Yankees team will show up.