With a 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Sept. 1, the Yankees dropped their fifth game in a row and slipped to .500 for the season. The discussion at the time was whether the Yankees -- with their strong designs on the 2020 World Series -- were the most disappointing team in baseball. That particular subplot, however, has been turned on its head.
On Saturday night, the Yankees blanked the Red Sox by a score of 8-0 (box score) behind starter J.A. Happ, who worked eight scoreless innings, and Clint Frazier, who had three hits including a homer. The win was New York's 10th in a row, which makes this their longest win streak since June of 2012. If they extend it to 11 games, then it will be their longest win streak since 1985. The Saturday win also means the Yankees, now 31-21 in this abbreviated 60-game campaign, have clinched their 28th straight winning season. More to the point, the Yankees' magic number for clinching a spot in the playoffs is down to one.
As for the ongoing streak, it's mostly driven by a return to health for the Yankee lineup. In recent days, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Gio Urshela have all come back. In related matters, the Yankees have hit 29 home runs over the course of the current 10-game win streak. Luke Voit has been especially hot, as he's homered six times in the last eight games to take the MLB lead with 20 home runs on the season. Not to be outdone, New York's pitching staff has registered a 2.30 ERA over the last 10 games, and that's despite a banged-up rotation.
The upshot is that the Yankees once again look like a genuine power and certifiable threat to win the World Series for the first time since 2009. They're not likely to catch the Rays for the division title, but there's little advantage to winning the division in 2020 thanks to the 16-team playoff format in which every team must play in the best-of-three wild card round.
Given their health issues over the last two seasons, it's not wise to assume the Yankees will avoid injury the rest of the way. If they do, however, they may enter the postseason as the consensus pick in the AL -- just as it was coming into the season. It's been a meandering path, but this rare win streak has the Yankees back where they expected to be.