Only five games remain on the Yankees' regular season schedule before it's time to bear down for the postseason. But these five games won't be tossed to the side as the team looks ahead to October.
They will determine whether or not the Yankees receive home field advantage throughout their series.
New York and Houston are currently vying to be the best team in baseball, and the winner will get that home field when the postseason kicks off. Currently, both teams have 102 wins with the Astros having one less loss for playing one game fewer.
The Yankees are also a little banged up at the moment, with Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez and Edwin Encarnacion currently nursing their own injuries. Manager Aaron Boone wants to see all three of these players and the rest of his roster at full health before October rolls around, but there's winning that home field advantage also at stake.
Boone's priorities are health first, then wins.
"First and foremost, we've got to take care of our guys," Boone told NJ.com's Randy Miller. "But we're going to pour everything into winnings games, too."
Still, Boone and the Yankees would love to start every series at Yankee Stadium when it comes down to it. But does home field advantage truly matter in the long run?
Looking at the Yankees record so far this season, they own a 57-24 record (.704) in the Bronx while they're 45-31 (.592) on the road. Not the biggest of differences there, but thanks to The Action Network, we can see how much home field advantage means when playoff games come around.
As of October 2018, 52 percent of the time in the Divisional Series the team with home field advantage comes away with a win (200-181). And those percentages only rise as you go deeper into the postseason. In the Championship Series, it ticks up to 55 percent (279-225) and 60 percent (166-110) in the World Series.
Here's another glaring stat: Home teams thrive in Game 1 of the World Series, going 58-34 since 1925 in those games. Setting the tone early is the obvious goal for teams in the World Series, so that home field atmosphere seems to matter in that situation.
The last time the Yankees were in the World Series was back in 2009, when the franchise's 27th title was brought home. During those series, the team went 7-1 at home -- their only loss coming to a masterful Cliff Lee of the Phillies in Game 1 of the World Series. But since then, the Yankees are 8-7 in home playoff games.
That's not too shabby, but when looking at this year's potential matchups heading to the World Series, the Yankees' recent postseason history with the Astros come to mind. The same team that plagued them back in 2017 on the road is trying to get that home field advantage from the pinstripes yet again.
Yankee fans probably remember how the team's potent lineup was absolutely shut down in Houston, as they scored just three runs over four games. When the Yankees were home, they scored 19 runs on the way to three straight victories. Granted, the Yankees did have to face Justin Verlander twice and Dallas Keuchel once on the road, but they couldn't get a single thing going in that series and they were shutout in Game 7 to end their World Series dreams.
And since 2017, the Yankees are 4-10 when playing at Minute Maid Park. When the Astros come to Yankee Stadium, the Bombers are 9-5.
Though the Yankees and Astros will have to go through their Divisional Series opponent first, the team doesn't forget the stark difference it was playing at home compared to the road in that series. So there's definitely an incentive to flipping the script this time around.
Of course, home field advantage doesn't always result in that team winning the series. Just look at the Dodgers the past two seasons. They won the National League pennant, and had home field against the Astros and Red Sox in 2018, but still lost both of those series to fall short. The Dodgers are the best team again in the NL with 100 wins on the season thus far, so they'll hope it's third times the charm if they make it.
In an ideal world, the Yankees will hope to secure that best record in the league and rest a little more comfortably knowing they can start things up with the Yankee Stadium crowd going bananas to kick off their series. Looking at the stats may make it seem like a small advantage, but when viewing their potential matchups, it could be the matter of falling short and advancing to the next round.
When it's October, any little advantage matters.