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Yankees GBU – It’s playoff time

The New York Yankees are playoff bound once again, and this time they come into their ALDS matchup with the Minnesota Twins as A.L. East champs. The Yankees wound up going 103-69 in what felt like a lifetime of a regular season, and now they shift their focus to winning that elusive 28th World Series.

While they focus forward, we need to take a look back at the good of a whirlwind season in which the Yankees had heightened expectations, lost everyone to the I.L., yet still somehow came out on top in the regular season.

There is no reason to focus on any of the negativity throughout the season because even with all the injuries, controversies and setbacks they still won 103 games and won the American League East pretty easily.

The Good

D.J.L. for M.V.P.

D.J. Lemahieu is far and away the Most Valuable Player of the Yankees, if not the entire American League. Lemahieu finished second for the batting title with a .327 average, and hit 26 home runs and 102 RBIs (career high).

The most impressive part of LeMachine’s season was his ability to hit in the clutch. For most of the season Lemahieu was hovering around .450 with RISP and is almost guaranteed to produce a run with a man on third.

Lemahieu is exactly the kind of player the Yankees needed last year. He is a Gold Glove defender at multiple positions, a clutch hitter at the top of the lineup and an overall positive clubhouse presence. His yeoman-like approach both on and off the field has made fans out of everyone who cross his path.

Gio surprises pretty much everyone

The biggest and most pleasant surprise of the Yankees’ season has been the emergence of Gio Urshela at third base. Originally to be thought of as a temporary fill-in, Urshela went from afterthought in a trade with Toronto to a bona-fide star on the Yankees. Due to the season-ending shoulder injury to Miguel Andujar, Urshela burst onto the scene with Gold Glove defense and a bat that had not previously been unlocked.

Urshela has been beat up lately and recently left the last game of the season with an ankle injury, but he’ll be good to go for the ALDS. Gio finished the season batting .314 with 21 home runs and 74 RBIs. These stats are eye popping considering Urshela never hit over .250 in his career before this season.

Gio Urshela is such a feel good story and gets lost a bit in the shuffle of the Yankees’ season. He deserves all the credit and praise he gets, and hopefully he will be starting in Game 1 of the ALDS.

The starting pitching (of late)

The Yankees didn’t go out and get a bona-fide starter before this season’s trade deadline, and Brian Cashman’s reluctance to overpay for a mediocre starter paid dividends when his pitching staff finally started to pitch well.

The first half of the season it seemed as though the Bombers were winning games despite their pitching. After the All-Star break, the Yankees’ rotation was nails, having the third best ERA in the American League.

James Paxton became the ace everyone was hoping he’d be after the Yankees made that off-season trade with the Seattle Mariners. Masahiro Tanaka was inconsistent but proved in big games that he could pitch lights out. Luis Severino came in like a bull in a china shop, pitching every inning like he was out there to prove something.

Even though his season finished under unfortunate circumstances and his name shouldn’t be included in the Yankees’ success, Domingo German did have an excellent season for them.

Overall, the Yankees’ rotation seemed to catch its stride at just the right time. With C.C. Sabathia and J.A. Happ pitching much better of late as well, they’ll be much welcomed additions to the bullpen.

The top end of the bullpen

Did Chad Green have some slip-ups early in the season? Absolutely. It was so bad at one point that he was sent down to AAA for a few weeks to work out the kinks. The rest of the bullpen has been a little shaky at times but never at the same time.

The Yankees’ back end has been their strong point all season. They have so many talented arms that if one falters, the others will pick them up. The fivesome of Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman is the best back end in baseball and will propel the Yankees through the playoffs.

Having such a talented bullpen means that they can be relied upon to get outs, regardless of how far the starters go. The Yankees have the luxury of throwing any of those five guys out in any given inning and getting positive results.

If the Yankees are to win the World Series, they’ll need to do so with good bullpen strategy and the same kind of pitching they’ve gotten from them the entire season. A subpar bullpen will spell doom for the Bombers.

The Yankees’ first postseason game will be Friday, October 4th at home against the Minnesota Twins. The Yankees have owned the Twins over the past 20 years, but the Twins have a formidable pitching staff and one of the best lineups in baseball.

This isn’t a walk in the park by any means but the Yankees are absolutely talented enough to win the World Series. Next up? A ALDS Preview between the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins.

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