The New York Yankees trading their best relievers before the deadline seemed to mark the end of their quest to make the postseason. However, their form in the last month, the home run hitting of rookie catcher Gary Sanchez and the change in the wild card race and in the AL East, with the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles unable to break away from them, leaves them very much in the playoff picture.
Since August began, the Yankees are 15-10, beginning the month at .500. They are only fourth in the AL East, but being 6.5 games behind the leaders gives them the hope this season can end with something substantial, or at least a playoff spot. They Red Sox and Orioles both hold the wild card spots, but the Yankees are only 3.5 games behind the Orioles, and the Kansas City Royals and Houston Astros, two other teams in the hunt for a wild card spot, are the only two others teams in better form than the Yankees.
Sending Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller away via trade, and releasing Alex Rodriguez, was a move that was perceived as the Yankees giving up on this season (although with Rodriguez, there was a lot more to it than that). Ivan Nova (doing well for the Pirates) was also sent away, but that had more to do with not believing in him than giving up on this season. But Dellin Betances has done well in the bullpen along with the returning Adam Warren, while Sanchez has been terrific, Starlin Castro has exceeded expectations, especially recently, and Didi Gregorius might be the best thing that’s happened to the Yankees in a while.
But it’s the 23-year old Sanchez that’s really stood out. Making an appearance in May but fully brought into the lineup in August, he’s batting .405 this season with an incredible 1.361 OPS. He has hit 11 home runs in 84 at bats for 21 RBIs while drawing 10 walks as well, and even if the Yankees don’t make the playoffs this year (they probably won’t), setting themselves up for success in the future with a young and much cheaper group is something to be happy about as well.