Yankees on course for October (again)

Despite Mark Teixeira's career-low .252 average, the Yankees are a virtual lock for the playoffs. Getty Images

As August dawned, the Yankees had owned sole possession of first place in the American League East for seven weeks, but the dog days are clearly upon them now. On Sunday, they fell victim to a two-hit shutout which provided 2002 first-pick flop Bryan Bullington of the Royals with his first major league victory. On Monday, they were held scoreless for eight innings before falling to the lowly Tigers, who came into the Bronx with a 9-22 record since the All-Star break. That loss gave the Yankees a 6-9 record for the month, and dropped them into a tie for first place with the Rays. Is their hold on a postseason spot secure?

The Yankees' playoff odds briefly topped an MLB-best 90 percent in late July, and stood an eyelash below that as of Aug. 1. After Monday's loss, those odds had fallen to 82.9 percent (46.1 percent division, 36.8 percent wild card), just the fourth-highest mark in the league behind the Rangers (96.7 percent), Twins (84.2 percent) and Rays (83.3 percent). While their run differential and third-order winning percentage are higher than those of Tampa Bay (plus-140 compared to plus-134, and .577 to .568, respectively), their remaining opponents have a slightly better record, averaging a 60-57 mark, compared to 58-59 for the Rays, which is why the odds slightly favor the latter.