The starting point to the Yankees’ August surge makes sense: Stuck outside the playoff field, they traded for Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo at the deadline, bolstering the roster and fulfilling the franchise’s two goals of adding stars and swinging for the fences with a bunch of big boys.
The destination makes sense, too: By posting an MLB-best 28-9 record since the All-Star break, the Yankees have accelerated past five teams in the American League wild-card standings to move into playoff position. After Wednesday’s games, the Yankees are as close to the Rays and the best record in the AL as they are to the Athletics—whom they visit for four crucial games this weekend—and the league’s second wild-card berth.
After sweeping a two-game set in Atlanta earlier this week, New York is on an 11-game win streak—the illustrious franchise’s longest since 1985. If the Yankees win their next game, they’ll have the franchise’s best streak since Maris and Mantle were chasing the home run record in 1961.
But along the way, the team’s expected journey has charted a rather unexpected path. Even with Gallo and Rizzo on the roster, and even with star pitchers like Gerrit Cole and Aroldis Chapman missing time this month, the Yankees are winning because of their pitching, not their offense.