ARLINGTON, Texas — The Yankees’ eventful 2022 regular season ended on Wednesday evening with a 4-2 loss to the Texas Rangers. After a charmed first half and troublesome second half, the Yankees finished with a 99-63 record, their highest win total since 2019.
While some Yankees had strong individual seasons, like pitchers Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes Jr., the regular season will likely be remembered most for the superstar outfielder Aaron Judge’s historic season. He dazzled teammates, opponents and fans alike with stellar hitting that got here near winning a triple crown and on Tuesday set a recent American League single-season home run record with 62.
Having secured one in every of the A.L.’s top two seeds, the A.L. East-winning Yankees earned the luxurious of a first-round bye within the postseason. So while the best-of-three wild-card round plays out this weekend, the Yankees will likely be resting drained limbs, practicing, debating roster composition, and watching and strategizing for his or her potential opponent. They won’t play a game, though, until Tuesday, the day of their first scheduled game of their A.L. division series against the winner between Cleveland and Tampa Bay.
The last time the Yankees had five days with no game was in mid March, when their spring training exhibition schedule began. (The Yankees’ All-Star break in mid July was only three days.) Baseball is a sport that’s played nearly day by day for months. The 162-game regular season began on April 7 and the World Series, should it go the utmost seven games, is scheduled to conclude on Nov. 5.
But through the negotiations over a recent collective bargaining agreement this past winter, Major League Baseball team owners and players agreed to expand the postseason format to 12 teams from 10, and thus the schedule needed some tweaking. The wild-card round went from a single-elimination game to a best-of-three series and two first-round byes were created in each league as a reward for the very best two division winners.
The result’s that the Yankees — together with Houston within the A.L. and the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta within the National League — will experience a decidedly unbaseball-like pause from games before their playoff games begin.
An argument may very well be made either way for the five days off: It may very well be helpful for a banged-up team (the Yankees) or it may very well be detrimental for a team (Atlanta) or player (Houston’s Jose Altuve, for instance, hit .444 over his final 14 games) locked right into a rhythm straight away. The most well liked team, not necessarily the very best, has won the World Series in recent seasons.
“Hopefully it’s a very good thing, right?” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said this week of the five days.
Boone said he was confident his team could weather the break because of recent advances across baseball. Nothing can simulate a late-game situation through which the rating is tied, a packed stadium is roaring, nerves are frayed, and the opposing team’s closer is firing 98-mile-per-hour fastballs. But virtual reality training devices or high-speed pitching machines, for instance, can recreate a few of those points and help players prepare to a level.
“Where we as a sport, so far as belongings you’re in a position to replicate and do behind the scenes, training sensible, the standard of technology that you might have to give you the option to see different pitches, velocity and breaking balls,” Boone said.
And, he said, the Yankees could have their hitters face as much live pitching as possible within the interim period and have their pitchers throw as much live batting practice as possible. He added, “I feel just like the five days, we must always give you the option to remain fairly sharp. And hopefully profit from the remainder that comes with that, on the heels of 162-game season.”
Added starting pitcher Jameson Taillon: “It’s going to assist that we now have plenty of veterans on our team, who know the way they need to arrange and the way their timing must be on the hitting side and the pitchers what sort of aggression you wish through your bullpens and stuff. I actually think that have goes to assist us. These guys know, whatever the circumstances. They’ll be ready.”
Given the injuries the Yankees sustained within the second half of the season, particularly to the bullpen of late, they might use the additional days to purchase more recovery time for the players.
Clay Holmes, the Yankees’ All-Star closer who has battled regression and injuries of late, has resumed throwing after receiving a cortisone shot in his sore right shoulder and is predicted back for the A.L.D.S. Wandy Peralta, a key left-handed reliever, is working to return from a back injury. Frankie Montas (shoulder inflammation) and Ron Marinaccio (shin stress response) may not return until the A.L. Championship Series, if the Yankees advance that far.
Despite so many pitchers coping with injuries (Zack Britton, Chad Green, Michael King, Jonathan Loáisiga) and inconsistency (Aroldis Chapman), the Yankees’ bullpen was among the best in baseball by way of E.R.A. through the regular season. Heading into the postseason, Boone said he had some “really good options” and that “it’s probably not going to be those traditional roles” so he expected to combine and match.
So far as position players, second baseman Gleyber Torres (illness) could use the time to complete recovering after missing the ultimate handful of games. Matt Carpenter, who was a giant lift to the Yankees’ lineup before he fractured his foot in early August, has been pushing hard to return in time to be a key left-handed bat and bench option. The Yankees are also keep watch over outfielder Andrew Benintendi (broken hand bone) as he ramps up his hitting.
Cole, who made his final start of the regular season on Tuesday night against the Rangers, could have to attend a whole week before his Game 1 start within the A.L.D.S. He said the Yankees were indifferent about this era without games.
“We’ve got to make the very best of the five days,” he said, adding later, “We now have strategies in place for staying sharp or getting extra rest. And I believe there’s probably a possibility for a very good handful, if no more, of the fellows within the room to simply put their feet up for a couple of days and take a load off, which I do know is useful in certain situations as well.”