When you see or hear discussion of the 20 comeback Yankee wins already this season, it is usually focused on how this team has great chemistry so they never get down and always believe they can find a way to win in the late innings. It makes for a nice story, especially when combined with whipped cream pies to the face, but it isn't a particualrly true story.
The Yankees may like each other and believe in each other, but that doesn't make all of these comebacks a good thing for the team. One might ask why, if this is such a happy bunch of warriors, they don't take the field brimming with confidence and blow the doors off of the opposition from the get-go?
It's not a sustainable way to build a playoff contender. The Yankees have taken leads into the seventh inning in only 19 games this season. They've been losing or tied 37 times, and the fact that they've won 14 of those games shouldn't be taken exclusively as a good thing. Beating up on tiring starters and bullpens of American League also-rans isn't exactly something they give out merit badges for at lodge meetings.
That may help explain why the Yankees are just 4-11 against the Red Sox, Rays and Phillies after Sunday's come-from-behind win against the Rays. They're 14-16 against teams currently over .500 overall, and each of those records suggest that counting on tiring starters and mediocre bullpens might not be the best strategy over the long term.
Taking a look at the expected records of teams in the American League at Baseball Prospectus is even more troubling. The Yankees have won about two more games than their runs for and against would suggest, while the Rays have played about five games below expectations. That should make a healthier Rays team a more threatening Rays team as those numbers correct themselves over the long run.
The basic takeaway from all of this is that a lot of things have broken right for the Yankees thus far this season. That may run counter to conventional thinking because of injuries and other struggles, but you don't post this many comebacks and go 8-0 in games tied entering the eighth inning without getting some good luck along the way. The problem with relying on luck is that it tends to even out over 162 games. So, even if it is less exciting, the Yankees would be better off being good than being lucky.