As the second half of the season kicks off, it was a successful yet frustrating first half for the Yankees. The Yankees mostly dominated in the first half. With 62 wins at the break, it marks their best start since 1998 when they won 114 regular season games and the 24th world championship in franchise history.
The problem, of course, is that the Red Sox have 68 wins. After last year’s Wild Card scare against the Twins, the Yankees are desperate to win the division and avoid the one game playoff. Luckily for the Yankees, the second half schedule looks like a relative cakewalk compared to the first half.
Starting Friday, the Yankees will have three games against the Mets, three against Tampa, four against Kansas City and two against Baltimore. That’s 12 games against non-contenders to kick off the second half.
With Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres set to return right after the break, this is a stretch that could yield at least nine or ten wins going into a pivotal four game series at Fenway Park on August 2. The great thing about playing weaker teams in the second half as opposed to the first is that a lot of the time they are eliminated from playoff contention and have sold off whatever decent assets they had in the beginning of the year. For example, Manny Machado will not be with Baltimore when they come to the Bronx on July 31st.
In addition to that golden 12 game stretch to open the second half, the Yankees are also finished playing the Astros and Indians, two of the best teams in baseball. In terms of Inter-league play, the worst is over, with the Yankees haven taken two of three from both of the Phillies and the Braves, two of the stronger National League teams. They can look forward to two games with the Marlins in Miami on August 21.
Among other weaker teams the Yankees can look forward to seeing in the second half are six games against the White Sox, four against the Tigers, three against the Rangers, and three against Minnesota. The only tough stretch looks to be a September west coast trip, when the Yankees play at Oakland and Seattle for three games apiece starting Labor Day.
I know a lot of Yankee fans have been frustrated by being in second place despite such a dominant start, but luck and injuries being equal, the Yankees second half schedule appears to give them a slight edge towards their first A.L. East crown since 2012.