The Yankees have been mediocre for much of the second half, and as a wild-card game approaches, general manager Brian Cashman knows what’s at stake for the team he built with high expectations.
“I thought I saw a lot of good signs here in that last series [against Boston],” Cashman said. “We’ve gotten everybody back from the DL, and we’re hoping that we hit our stride and find our stride. I’m seeing certain characteristics that can get you excited because I think this team is capable and obviously we’ve got to finish things off in the regular season.”
If the Yankees are going to find their stride and make a second straight deep run into the playoffs, they’ll have to do it quickly, since only nine games remained after they played the Orioles on Friday night in The Bronx.
Cashman made it clear the Yankees will do everything they can to secure home-field advantage for the wild-card game — and then win it — as opposed to preparing for a potential ALDS matchup with the Red Sox.
“I think we’re gonna pick the best person to help us win that game and then roll with it past that,” Cashman said of who might start the game, as well as who would be in the lineup. “Everything gets thrown out the door.”
The Yankees entered Friday with a 1½-game lead over the Athletics for the top wild-card spot.
“Our guys know what time it is,” Cashman said. “Not that they’ve ever slacked off or cut back. We know all eyes are on us — always — and at the end of the day, it’s postseason baseball in front of us and we’ve got to secure that first and foremost, and we want to host the wild-card game if at all possible. But if not, the effort is gonna be the same.”
As for who will take the mound for the do-or-die game, Cashman said, “Everything is gonna get factored in.”
And if Aaron Judge and Aroldis Chapman return to form after returning from injuries, the GM is confident it will be “perfect timing.”
“Then we are capable of a lot and we’ll be a more formidable opponent than we’ve been the last two months,’’ Cashman said.
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