Every day that passes makes a Twins-Yankees one-game Wild Card playoff more likely.
That's great because it would put the Twins back in the playoffs for the first time since 2010, but it's bad because the Yankees are freaking awesome, not to mention their 12-2 playoff record against the Twins since 2003.
This year's Yankee team is red-hot right now, frequently flashing its frightening potential. They've outscored opponents by 61 runs since Aug. 14, Aaron Judge is on fire again, and their super bullpen is capable of putting a game on ice after five innings or less.
The Twins got a glimpse of that dominance Monday night. After Jaime Garcia limited the Twins to one run over 5 2/3 innings, the bullpen put a number on the Twins.
David Robertson got four outs without allowing a hit. Dellin Betances walked two to give the Twins a bases loaded, one out situation in the eighth, but Aroldis Chapman blew Joe Mauer away and got Byron Buxton to pop out to end the threat. Then he pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, ending the game on a 104 mph fastball to Eduardo Escobar.
104 mph. That's not a typo.
Since the beginning of September, the Yankees have held opponents to a .182 batting average in the seventh through ninth innings. Their only weakness has been issuing walks, namely Betances.
But Yankees manager Joe Girardi can leave Betances on the bench and not blink. He still has two other elite options that Minnesota didn't face Monday night: Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle.
Look at how many strikeouts per nine innings these guys average.
- David Robertson: 12.1 K/9
- Chad Green: 13.8 K/9
- Dellin Betances: 15.6 K/9
- Tommy Kahnle: 11.5 K/9
- Aroldis Chapman: 12.7 K/9
For context, Trevor Hildenberger (among regulars) leads the Twins with 9.31 K/9.
The only one of the five whose fastball doesn't average at least 95 mph is Robertson, according to FanGraphs. The rest throw straight gas.
- Robertson: 91.9 mph
- Green: 95.8 mph
- Betances: 98.5 mph
- Kahnle: 98.1 mph
- Chapman: 100.2 mph
If that's not enough, consider that all of them have a strikeout rate of at least 33 percent.
Still not enough? The scariest part about that stat is that Chapman, the guy with the 104 mph heater, is the low man at 33 percent. Green is actually the most strikeout-happy at 42 percent.
FanGraphs points out that "the Yankees could become the first bullpen to feature five pitchers with strikeout rates of 30 percent or greater."
They're not invincible, but with a bullpen like New York's, they're capable of being the most dangerous team in baseball this postseason – and the Twins are on a collision course with them.
The alternative to the Yankees
If the Twins happen to get in as a Wild Card team and they don't play the Yankees, the only alternative appears to be a do-or-die against the Red Sox. That would only happen if the Yankees erase a three-game deficit and win the AL East.
Boston is 5-2 and has outscored Minnesota 51-21 this season.