AL East Heats Up

The new look Yankees have gone 17-9 since August 9th to join the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles in the hunt for the AL East title. Both AL wild card spots are currently held by these teams, but with most of their remaining games against each other, that may not be the case much longer. For the AL East, it could well be just like the old days: win or go home.

A look at what should be a memorable pennant chase after the jump.

Here are the current standings, with the top three having an off day today.

Schedule

Their remaining schedules look like this.

Boston has their whole schedule within the division (and all but three games against the other contenders) so can most easily gain ground, or lose it. The road to the division title would seem to run through Boston; any of the contenders will likely need to get a least a split (or close to it) against the Red Sox to have a good shot at the crown.

Toronto would appear to have the most favorable schedule, with all of their division games at home until their season-ending set in Boston. But, the Blue Jays still have a West Coast road swing ahead of them, which is always a challenge.

Baltimore finishes the schedule with six on the road, so will need to make some hay before then at home. The opportunity to do just that seems to be there, with the Rays and D-Backs on the home docket.

New York finishes with six at home, so they need to still be in striking range before then. It won’t be easy with an 11-game road trip to Boston, Tampa and Toronto preceding that final home stand.

Hot and Cold

New York is hitting the home stretch on a bit of a roll, despite having had their bats fall silent last weekend in Baltimore. Here’s what the teams have done recently, and over the course of the season.

Boston is on a six game streak allowing two runs or less, albeit against the bottom-feeding A’s and Padres; it’s the first such Red Sox streak on the road since 1982. Boston is 28-11 in blowout games (5+ run differential), but 50-50 in the rest; that should be good news for the Red Sox, with 20 of their last 23 games in hitter-friendly ballparks.

Toronto’s current three game slide is its first since dropping 5 in a row in mid-May. Their offense has cooled of late, losing 6 of 8, with a 2-1 record when scoring 5+ runs but 0-5 otherwise. For the season, Toronto and Baltimore are both winning at better than a .300 clip when scoring 4 runs or less, while New York and Boston are below that mark, especially the Red Sox with a .220 W-L% that’s tied for 5th worst in the majors.

Baltimore has shut out its opponent in 3 of their last 10 games, after allowing double-digit runs in 4 of the prior 10 games. The Orioles are 7 games under .500 on the road, so they’ll need to avoid reverting to Mr. Hyde defensively if they’re to have success in their four remaining away series; it won’t be easy as three of those series are in very hitter-friendly ballparks against their AL East challengers.

New York’s current hot streak began with back-to-back extra-inning wins in Kansas City; the Yankees made it to the ALCS, won the ALCS and won the World Series the last three times they had such a streak on the road (and were World Series-bound on four of the seven occasions before that). New York was 17-11 (.607) in August; since 1969, 42.5% of teams (111 of 261) that played .600 ball in August have won their division.

Head-to-Head

To close, here are the contenders’ records to date against each other.

So, how do you handicap this race?

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Dr. Doom
Dr. Doom
5 years ago

This is an excellent summary, Doug. I have no idea how to handicap it, but I think you’re right that we should set least be getting an interesting pennant race out of it.

no statistician but
no statistician but
5 years ago

Doug: If the road runs through Boston, it will be the pitching staff that gives the Red Sox the green light. In the last 28 days, the team ERA has been 3.24 and they’ve gone 17-9 to put them in the division lead. Their runs allowed have dropped to sixth in the league from the ninth/tenth spot where they hovered all season into August. First in runs scored vs. ninth in runs allowed doesn’t fly. First vs. sixth, if they can keep it up, might possibly. In spite of this, I keep thinking Toronto is the best team, the Orioles… Read more »

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
5 years ago

No way nsb, did you see the guys congratulating Austin during his post-game interview last night? They are loose, and having fun. Been hovering around .500, in 4th place, all year. No one expects them to be here. Young blood. New life. Nothing to lose if they lose. I’m seeing the anti-thesis of what has been the status quo for the last 15 years – bloated aging we-need-to-win-because-we’re-the-Yankees nonsense. This is the most dangerous team in the league right now – enjoy the run, give in to hope, let yourself be emotionally invested the same way you were when you… Read more »

David P
David P
5 years ago

Yankees are a bit like the Rangers. They’re 24-9 in one run games and 6 games above their Pythagorean record. In fact, a few days ago, I read that they had the exact same runs scored and runs allowed as the Rays but were 12 games ahead of them in the standings. Meanwhile, I think the Tigers have the inside edge on one of the wild card spots. 14 of their final 23 games are at home. And 10 of their final games are against the Twins and Braves. Also, the Astros final 16 games are against the Mariners, the… Read more »

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
5 years ago
Reply to  David P

Yanx’ record in one-run games has certainly been helped by Miller and Chapman.

Let’s see how those two have done with their new teams vs their replacements (Warren and Clippard):

Miller
17.2 IP
28 SO
0.679 WHIP
2.55 ERA
0.7 WAR

Chapman
18.2 IP
32 SO
0.911 WHIP
1.45 ERA
0.7 WAR

Warren
19 IP
17 SO
1.263 WHIP
3.32 ERA
0.4 WAR

Clippard
16 IP
18 SO
1.000 WHIP
0.56 ERA
0.6 WAR

David P
David P
5 years ago
Reply to  Voomo Zanzibar

Yanks are actually 7-0 in one-run games since trading Miller and Chapman.

Mike L
Mike L
5 years ago

Laugh for the day, since I’m also a politics junkie. Saw a man on train with hat that said “Make Baseball Great Again.” He saw I noticed it, and grinned at me. Looked like he was wearing a Baltimore minor league team t-shirt as well.

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
5 years ago

The Yankees now have:

3 pitchers with 9+ Saves, and
6 pitchers with 10+ Games Finished.

Is there a way to use the Play Index to see how often teams have hit those marks?

Daniel Longmire
Daniel Longmire
5 years ago
Reply to  Voomo Zanzibar

It doesn’t happen often; I ran a search in the Pitching Season Finder with your criteria. Although I’m not a subscriber, there don’t seem to be more than about 5 or 6 teams a decade with even three pitchers on a team that collect 9 saves. Just nineteen teams have ever gotten 10+ saves from a trio of hurlers.

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
5 years ago

Aha, I see how to do it now. Thanks.
I’m not a subscriber, either, so I can’t see it all.

And 6 players with at least 10 GF is certainly not a record.
There are teams with 8, and I can’t see the top nine teams.

(the single reason I’m not a P-I subscriber is that I think I would spend more time on it than I should, but that’s probably not true…)

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
5 years ago

Donnie Hart of the Orioles (who scored all of their runs by HR again last night), has not given up a run in his first 15 career games. Right now, he has the record for most games in a rookie year with a 0 ERA: 15 … Hart 14 … Mike Hinckley 12 … Bob McClure 11 … James Pazos (2015) 10 … Fernando Valenzuela 10 … Todd Frohwirth ______________________________ Most IP: 20.0 … Harry Coveleski 18.0 … Karl Spooner 17.2 … Fernando Valenzuela 16.2 … Mike Norris 15.1 … Bob McClure 15.0 … Dave Ford 14.1 … Jeremy Hernandez… Read more »

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
5 years ago

The Yankees this year have:
5 players who are at least 78 inches tall.
4 players who are 79+

I can’t manipulate the P-I for that one to see historical results, but I’m guessing it’s a record.

no statistician but
no statistician but
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Only one of these 12 teams made the postseason—Oakland in 2014, eliminated in a one-game playoff—and three quarters of them had losing records.

Small sample size, but . . ..

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Rangers:
All pitchers

Kameron Loe
Dustin Nippert
Franklyn Germán
Scott Feldman
Brandon McCarthy
____________________

Expos:

Troy Mattes
Graeme Lloyd
Bobby Muñoz
Bob Scanlan
Guillermo Mota (listed at 6’6″ on his page)

no statistician but
no statistician but
5 years ago
Reply to  Voomo Zanzibar

That Rangers team?

The top 12 in WAR were all position players.

How often has that happened?

David P
David P
5 years ago

NSB – I only count their top 9 being position players. Number 10 was reliever Frank Francisco.

no statistician but
no statistician but
5 years ago

David P:

Eleven out of twelve ain’t bad with my bi-focles.

So how often have a team’s top 9 in WAR been position players?

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
5 years ago

So Aaron Judge is shut down for the year with an oblique injury. He did NOT set any strikeout records, but he came close. He whiffed in 44 percent of PA. A few guys have done worse, and a few have done so in more PA. Here is most PA with at least a 43 percent walk of shame rate: 136 .. Rick Ankiel 123 .. Joey Gallo 116 .. J.R. Phillips 106 .. Dave Duncan 95 … Aaron Judge 82 … Mark Bellhorn 72 … Ian Stewart 70 … Brandon Hicks 64 … Rob Deer 57 … Carlos Peguero… Read more »