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The Yankees have a powerful young lineup and one of the game's best bullpens. They are a viable threat to win the 2017 World Series.

October 01, 2017

From 2016 rebuilders to 2017 wild card qualifiers, the Yankees have gotten dramatically younger, but they're still a viable contender for the AL pennant. The lineup lacks standouts besides Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez—six of the seven other regulars has an OPS+ between 98 and 106 [through Friday]—but the key to their advancement is pitching. Twenty-three-year-old staff ace Luis Severino (2.98 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 10.7 K/9) and midseason acquisition Sonny Gray form a solid 1–2 punch even if Gray struggled with walks and home runs allowed in September. CC Sabathia has remade himself after abandoning his four-seam fastball in favor of a sinker and cutter. Masahiro Tanaka, though erratic, can flat-out dominate on his best day, as his attested by his games of 13, 14, and 15 strikeouts this year, each without a walk. 

The real key is a bullpen designed for October. With Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman, manager Joe Girardi has a veritable clown car of effective relievers who can miss bats. The four besides Chapman are among the 10 relievers who whiffed at least 37% of batters faced, and all have ERAs below 3.00. Chapman’s strong September (12 IP, 17 K, 5 baserunners) suggests he’s past the shoulder and hamstring injuries that cut into his effectiveness earlier in the year. The group will shorten games to the point that it won't be a surprise if any starter is pulled before five innings, even with a lead.

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