Although the race for the American League East crown has generated some unforeseen excitement over the past two weeks, the Yankees’ periodic flirting with surges and stumbles suggests they’ll still be ticketed for a spot in the Wild Card game on October 3.
But New York’s (84-48) odds of advancing to a potential best-of-five series against the Red Sox (91-42) in the ALDS have jumped in the last 24 hours, since another team in contention for the one-game playoff just encountered a major snag.
On Tuesday, the Oakland Athletics placed left-handed starters Sean Manaea (rotator cuff tendinitis) and Brett Anderson (forearm strain) on the disabled list, and according to multiple reports, Manaea — who is out indefinitely with the shoulder injury — could miss the remainder of the season.
“[You feel this one], a little bit more so,” Athletics’ manager Bob Melvin recently told The Athletic. “We’ve kind of had waves [of injuries] as the season’s went along, starting in spring training. With Sean being the only guy that was in the rotation the entire season, that one’s probably a little more difficult.
“Not that any of them aren’t difficult. To lose your guy that’s really been the ace of the staff for the better part of the entire season, that one’s a little tougher to digest. Again, it’s what we have to deal with and we move forward.”
Considering that Oakland (80-54) is five games ahead of the Seattle Mariners for the second wild card spot and 2.5 games back of the Houston Astros for first place in the AL West standings, Manaea’s diagnosis is concerning. The 26-year-old has been a mainstay in Oakland’s rotation this season, as he leads the team with 12 wins, 15 quality starts, 108 strikeouts, and 160.2 innings pitched.
Based on those numbers, all signs would point toward the Athletics handing Manaea the ball in a do-or-die setting against the Yankees. But, if Manaea won’t be able to pitch again in 2018, it’d be quite an advantage for New York, regardless of where the Wild Card game is played.
The Yankees will open a three-game set against Oakland at the Coliseum on September 3, followed by a three-game series against the Mariners in Seattle beginning September 7.