Numbers never lie: Yankees’ playoffs math doesn’t add up

2 weeks ago 24

The math … well, it isn’t good. None of the math is good.

According to, the Yankees had a 0.1 percent chance of making the playoffs Monday morning. ESPN liked their chances three times as much: 0.3 percent. And FanGraphs — in a clearly shameless play for more Yankee-fan subscribers — had them all the way up at 0.4 percent.

The Yankees’ tragic number, entering Monday, was seven. Back on Sept. 6, after they beat the Tigers for their fifth straight win and eighth in nine games, they snuck to within six games of the last wild-card spot, the closest they’d been in a month. Aaron Boone dared to point out, “all we can do is keep winning.” And they played .600 ball over their next 10 games.

And lost a half-game in the wild-card race.

It was still 6 ½ games at the start of play Monday, when two of the teams the Yankees are pursuing — Texas and Seattle — played their 150th games of the year while the Yankees sat idle.

(Here is where we are required by law to insert this timeless quote from Lloyd Christmas: “So you’re telling me there’s a chance … YEAHHH!”) 

Jim Carrey, left, and Jeff Daniels arrive at the LA Premiere Of "Dumb And Dumber To."So you’re saying there’s a chance the Yankees can still qualify for the postseason? New York will have to channel Jim Carrey’s character from “Dumb and Dumber.”Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

So, as we said. Bad math. Lots of bad math.

But, look: What else do we have right now?

The football teams are dark until Thursday. The hoops and hockey seasons haven’t started yet. St. John’s seems to sign a good recruit every day but nobody televises that. We’re all kind of biding out time for the almost-certain Liberty-Aces WNBA Finals. Two of the three oddsmakers above actually have the Mets’ playoff odds at minus-1 percent (FanGraphs, apparently pining for Mets fans too; only give the Mets a Blutarsky — 0.0)

(And, hell, we don’t even have any more episodes of “Winning Time” to look forward to ever again. Boooo, HBO!)  

Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., right, celebrates with relief pitcher Adam Cimber (90).The Blue Jays are a half-game ahead of the Rangers for the second AL wild card.AP

So for now, for today, for the next few days at least, there are the Yankees, with two teams to jump over and three at home this week against one of them, Toronto. The Jays are still a week ahead of the Yankees — seven full games — but the teams play six times the next 10 days. Maybe these games don’t necessarily rise to “critical” yet.

But if you’re a Yankees fans, you’re certainly going to watch.

Aaron Boone at the top of the dugout steps.Aaron Boone and the Yankees are still fighting the good fight.AP

And you’re certainly going to spend a lot of screen time on your phone, checking out the scores from Seattle and Arlington, Texas. The math is what the math is. They’re still going to play games for 13 more days. So here is a look at what the Yankees almost certainly have to do with the 12 games they have left:

1. Go 5-1 against the Jays.

2. Take two of three from the Diamondbacks, in town this weekend.

3. Sweep the Royals, who still have a good chance to lose 110 games.

That’s 10-2. That’s hard. But that’s the kind of streak the Yankees need now, minimum. That would get them to 86-76 by a week from Sunday; and in truth that, on its own, wouldn’t be enough. For it to matter, two of the three teams ahead of them have to do the following:

Toronto Blue Jays' Matt Chapman, center, celebrates with teammates after hitting a walkoff double against the Boston Red Sox in ninth-inning baseball game action in Toronto, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023.The Blue Jays are riding a three-game winning streak after sweeping the Red Sox over the weekend.AP

Toronto: 2-10 in the final 12, and while that’s a long shot they are playing all 12 against the desperate Yankees and the still-hunting-for-first place Rays. If that happens, the Jays will be 85-77. Even if the Jays finish 3-10, they’d lose an 86-76 tiebreaker with the Yankees … but that might not matter because …

Seattle & Texas: … the Mariners and Rangers play seven games against each other. This could complicate things unless one team goes 6-1 or 7-0. If the Yankees need to root for one team to do that, it would probably be Seattle, since they still have three games against the A’s, still in play to lose 111. If the Rangers are in full tuck position — and they sure looked that way in Cleveland this weekend — and go, say, 1-6 against the Mariners …

Boston Red Sox's Masataka Yoshida (7) reacts after striking out against the Toronto Blue Jays.The Yankees have climbed out of the AL East basement, leaving the Red Sox as cellar dwellars.AP

It’s still tough. The Rangers also have three games this week against the white-flag-waving Red Sox. Can they lose two out of three? If so that, coupled with 2-8 against the Mariners and Astros, would leave them at 85-77 — one game shy of the Yankees, against whom they hold the tie-breaker.

That’s a lot of dominoes, sure. But there’s no football till Thursday night. The writer’s strike leaves us with nothing much to watch on TV besides a fifth rewatching of “The Wire.” Maybe meaningful games in September aren’t as meaningful to the Yankees as they’ve been elsewhere in town. But for at least the next few days … we’ve got some.

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