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Yankees rotation starting to click as October nears

Monday night marked the final regular season match-up between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, and this year's season series between the two rival clubs saw the Bombers take 14 out of 19 match-ups from the defending World Series champions.

On the mound for New York was James Paxton, who delivered yet another gem to secure his eighth straight victory as the tall left-hander has continued to impress down the stretch.

Over those eight starts, Paxton has pitched to a dazzling 2.57 ERA while limiting opponents to just a .170 batting average.

After an up-and-down start to his first Yankees season, Big Maple is now living up to the hype that preceded his move from Seattle this past offseason.

"Obviously the stuff speaks for itself," Aaron Boone said of Paxton's outing after the game. "It's coming down to the wire down the stretch. We hope to have a lot of baseball left but you certainly like to see guys at their best this time of year, no question."

Paxton's resurgence is just a microcosm of a promising recent trend by the Yankees rotation, which is starting to find its rhythm at the perfect time with postseason baseball just around the corner.

After much debate prior to the trade deadline regarding the Yankees starting rotation, hurlers like J.A. Happ and Masahiro Tanaka have been increasingly locked in. Luis Severino, a central component of the last two Yankees playoff runs, is also close to returning, which could potentially elevate the pitching staff to new heights in 2019.

Happ, who for much of the regular season has struggled with the home run ball, turned in back-to-back scoreless outings in his last two starts for New York, allowing a total of three base hits while striking out 12 over 12 1/3 innings combined.

Following his 12-run anomaly in Boston on July 25, Tanaka has demonstrated his stellar pedigree bouncing back to pitch to a 3.86 ERA in his subsequent eight starts. Tanaka was considered the front-runner to start for the Yankees in their first playoff series opener, but Paxton is making a strong case now as well.

The wild card in the Yankees rotation landscape is Severino, who could be back with the team later this week, Aaron Boone recently told reporters. Sevy will continue to build up his pitch count before the arrival of the postseason, but it's difficult to project what he might offer after missing the entire regular season up to this point.

It's also too early to definitively predict what the Yankees' postseason roster will look like, but the rotation - once considered a trouble spot - looks to be rounding into shape for whatever challenges will come its way.

Luckily for New York, the remaining regular season slate features just one team with a winning record. They'll face the Tigers (42-100), Blue Jays (55-89), Angels (67-78), Blue Jays again, Rays (86-59) and finally the Rangers (72-73) to close out the 2019 season, which could help players like Severino ease back into things as he makes his return to the big leagues.

Also on the mend are CC Sabathia (knee), Jordan Montgomery (elbow), Dellin Betances (shoulder) and Ben Heller (elbow), all of whom are expected to rejoin the Yankees sooner than later.

With a high-powered bullpen already in place and seasoned with playoff experience, the surging Yankees rotation could be the final piece of the puzzle for a New York club in search of its 28th championship.

The Yankees kick off their next match-up with the struggling Tigers Tuesday night, as the race toward October officially kicks into high gear.