SimSeason: The 2015 Yankees, September
It’s time for our fourth installment of our just-for-fun projection of the 2015 season, as run through the newest edition of Out of the Park Baseball, licensed by MLB.com. If you missed the first two posts, here’s our ground rules and what happened in April, and here’s how May and June went. Yesterday was July and August. If you want to get in the driver’s seat for your own GM/managing experience, OOTP 16 is available now for PC and Mac.
Checking In… Sept. 1, 2015
There’s a crisp in the air here at Fenway Park as the visiting clubhouse is becoming even more tough to navigate. Rosters expanded this morning and the Yankees have summoned several reinforcements from the Minors. Andrew Bailey, Chase Whitley, Jose Ramirez and Bryan Mitchell are up to supplement the pitching staff, while Jacoby Ellsbury and Slade Heathcott have been activated from the DL. Greg Bird was recalled, and the Yanks purchased the contract of Nick Noonan, who had a good year down at Triple-A. Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine are also here.
You probably wouldn’t have thought it this summer, but the Yanks have fought into playoff position at 70-60 (.538). They’re 4 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay (75-56), but well ahead of the third-place Red Sox (63-68), who started the season well but have had a rash of pitching problems. New York leads the Wild Card chase by a game over the White Sox (69-61), with the Mariners (67-65) three games off the pace.
How’d they do it? Great pitching all year, especially from Masahiro Tanaka (12-6, 3.38) and Michael Pineda (12-8, 3.41). CC Sabathia has been healthy (7-12, 4.24) and I really feel like Nathan Eovaldi (8-15, 4.93) has pitched better than his record. The bullpen has been a force, paced by Dellin Betances (31 saves, 1.49). Like Kansas City last year, if the Yanks get a lead to the sixth inning, they’re shaking hands more often than not after nine.
It’s getting those leads that has been the issue. They’re 13th in the AL with 518 runs scored and dead last with a .232 batting average. Their .310 on-base percentage ranks 14th, but the call-ups have added a spark. Brett Gardner leads the team with a .252 average, while Brian McCann paces the way with 20 homers and 62 RBIs. The Yanks should get Andrew Miller back in four days and, if Carlos Beltran returns in two weeks, they might actually have their Opening Day lineup back on the field.
Well, I spoke too soon. A-Rod sprained his ankle running the bases in a 9-3 win on Sept. 1. He’ll avoid the DL since rosters are expanded, but it looks like he’ll miss three weeks. … Masahiro Tanaka improved to 13-6 with 6 1/3 scoreless innings in a 6-0 win over the Rays Sept. 4. … Michael Pineda bumped his record to 13-8 with seven strong innings to beat the Rays, 8-1, on Sept. 5, and CC Sabathia threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings on Sept. 6 as the Yanks celebrate a sweep of Tampa Bay. Austin Romine homered and they’re just a half game off the AL East lead. …
New York (75-61) takes over first place with a 4-3 win over the Orioles on Sept. 7. Greg Bird’s two-run single in the ninth decides it. … The Yanks make it a 1-1/2 game lead with a 7-0 win over Baltimore on Sept. 8. Gary Sanchez hits his first MLB homer, off T.J. McFarland. … It’s a 2-1/2 game lead on Sept. 9 as the Yanks finish off the sweep of the O’s, posting a 6-2 decision for their sixth straight win. Bird and Jones homer off Ubaldo Jimenez to back Tanaka’s 14th win. … A five-run eighth lifts the Yanks to a 10-5 win on Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, as Evan Reed issues two bases-loaded walks, then throws a wild pitch.
The Yanks (79-63) split the four-game set with Toronto while the fading Rays (75-67) lose their 11th straight, falling four games back in the East. Yanks’ magic number is 17. … Tanaka dominates in a 6-0 win at The Trop on Sept. 14, hurling 8 2/3 innings of scoreless, two-hit ball with 10 strikeouts. The Yanks improve to 80-63. … Tampa Bay snaps its 12-game losing streak on Sept. 15 as Alex Cobb out-pitches Michael Pineda, 6-0, then get to Dellin Betances in the ninth on Sept. 16 as Evan Longoria singles home the game-winner. It’s Betances’ third blown save. … At Citi Field on Sept. 18, Nathan Eovaldi throws another clunker as the Yanks lose, 5-2. They remain 2-1/2 up in the East. …
Chris Young’s RBI double lifts the Yanks to a 3-2 victory over the Mets on Sept. 19. Tanaka improves to 16-6 and Dellin Betances logs save No. 33 as the Yanks stay 2-1/2 up on Tampa Bay, with a magic number of 13. … Matt Harvey out-pitches Ivan Nova on Sept. 20 as the Mets take two of three in this leg of the Subway Series. The Rays also lose, so the lead remains 2 1/2 … Brian McCann’s 13th-inning RBI single off Matt West lifts the Yanks to a wild 7-6 win on Sept. 21 at Rogers Centre. Esmil Rogers picks up his second win with two innings of scoreless relief.
The Yanks (82-67) remain 2 1/2 up on Tampa Bay (80-70). … New York loses the last two games to Toronto by scores of 6-2 and 6-3, trimming the lead to 1 1/2 games. Poor Nathan Eovaldi falls to 8-19. … A five-run ninth inning lifts the Yankees to a 7-6 win over the White Sox on Sept. 25. Garrett Jones walks it off with a three-run homer. Jose Ramirez gets the win as the Yanks’ lead is back to 2 1/2, magic number of eight. … Nova takes the loss in a 6-1 decision to Chicago on Sept. 25 as the Rays close within 1 1/2 … Pineda is spanked for 12 hits by the White Sox in a 4-2 loss on Sept. 26. The lead is now just a half-game as the Yanks (83-71) are 3-7 in their last 10 games. …
Chicago’s Jordan Danks holds the Yanks to a run over seven innings in a 6-1 loss on Sept. 27. Sabathia gets thumped. Tampa Bay also loses, reducing the Yanks’ magic number to seven. … It’s all tied in the East as the Yanks lose to the Red Sox, 10-3, on Sept. 28. New York and Tampa Bay hold identical 83-73 records. … Carlos Beltran’s two-run double off Alexi Ogando in the eighth inning Sept. 29 is arguably the Yanks’ biggest hit of the year. Mark Teixeira follows with an RBI single off Junichi Tazawa and Dellin Betances slams the door in the ninth as the Yanks beat Boston, 9-6. They remain even with the Rays at 84-73. …
Brett Gardner’s 11th inning double off Koji Uehara sets off a wild celebration in the Bronx on Sept. 30, scoring Stephen Drew to lift the Yankees to a 3-2 win over Boston. The Yanks and Rays remain tied for the AL East lead, at 85-73.
Checking In… Oct. 1, 2015
Hello from Yankee Stadium, where we have seen some incredible baseball in front of packed houses over the last few days. While it seems pretty assured that the Yankees will be playing in the postseason, ending their two-year drought, the division is still very much up for grabs. Joe Girardi keeps talking about how it is hugely important to win the division and not put yourself in a situation where you’re the second Wild Card, guaranteed only to extend your season for nine innings. We’ll know if they can hold off Tampa Bay and accomplish that goal soon.
This is a good time to promise to everyone still reading that, yes, I stuck to the ground rules of the simulation and did not alter the settings to help the Yankees. This is just what happened. “You can’t predict baseball,” as John Sterling would say.
Tomorrow … the playoff tickets have been printed and sold. What happens next?