A lackluster start for the Yankees, coupled with a torrid start for the Rays, has the Yankees facing a deficit not seen in nearly 40 years. May 5, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA;New York Yankees center fielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa (12) walks back to the dugout after he strikes out to end the top of the eight inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If the New York Yankees were seeing their series against the Tampa Bay Rays as a chance to pick up some ground on the American League East leader, they didn’t get off to a good start.

While the Yankees erased an early 4-0 deficit, they still finished the game on the wrong end of a 5-4 final score.

On one hand, things could be a lot worse for the Yankees. Sure, the start of the season hasn’t gone especially well. But at 17-16, things could be a lot worse in the Bronx. But despite the winning record, New York is still in last place in the division. And, as Bryan Hoch of MLB.com detailed, the 10-game deficit behind the first-place Rays is the largest that the Yankees have faced at this point of the season in nearly 40 years.

Interestingly, the 2023 Rays are having a similar start to the team the Yankees chased in 1984, the Detroit Tigers. The 1984 Tigers started 35-5 and ended up having one of the greatest seasons in MLB history, finishing 104-58 and winning the World Series, losing only one postseason game.

Now, there is some good news for the Yankees. One, while that 1984 team couldn’t threaten the Tigers, it did bounce back to a respectable 87-75 record.

Furthermore, in 1984, only one team per division made the playoffs. In 2023, not only do the division winners all make the playoffs, but three Wild Card teams from each league do, as well. And, as Hoch detailed, the Yankees are still well within range of a Wild Card spot.

But while the Yankees have more than enough time to get back into playoff position, they do need to quickly break out of the funk that has seen them go 4-8 since starting 13-8.

[Bryan Hoch]

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