The Toronto Blue Jays are a pretty potent offensive team. They’re tenth in OPS and eighth overall in home runs hit. But those numbers shoot up when they face a lefty. Against southpaws this season, the Blue Jays are downright brutal. With a .293/.364/.470 line, the team is third overall in OPS vs. lefties.
So who are the Yankees sending up against a team that seemingly struggles with right-handed pitching? Not any righty farm hand who has a good chance of shutting them down. No, tonight, they are going with their lefty specialist Kei Igawa. Kei, who in an alternate universe, is a good pitcher, stands as good a chance as any at getting utterly shelled tonight. Let’s review.
When last we saw Mr. Igawa, I noted that the Yanks were winning in spite of Igawa’s contribution. Since he hasn’t pitched in over 10 days, things haven’t really gotten any better for his season numbers. I wrote then:
Specifically, Igawa has thrown 16 innings, surrendering 17 hits while walking 9 and striking 12. Heâ€™s given up 3 home runs and has retired just 14 batters via the ground ball as opposed to 21 via the fly ball. He pitches like a disaster waiting to happen, and itâ€™s only a matter of time before he gets pounded for an ungodly number of runs in, say, 1.2 innings.
And so this is the Igawa that will stride to the mound in Yankee Stadium tonight at 7:05 p.m. to face a lineup of Blue Jays who devour lefty pitching. Tonight could really be that night that he’s out after 1.2 innings never to return to the Bronx.
Now, for the Yanks’ sake, I hope that’s not true. They’re above .500 for the first time in over three weeks. They’ve trimmed a few games off of Boston’s lead this weekend and stand a manageable nine games out of first and eight games behind Cleveland, the Wild Card leader. They won, in dicey fashion, three out of four in Tampa Bay and now need to manage a 17-7 record over their next 24 games to meet our expectations of 20-8 against sub-.500 teams to start the second half.
A decent start tonight by Igawa would probably mean 5 IP and 4 ER. The Yanks are facing Josh Towers, a righty in the Blue Jays’ rotation only because no one else has worked out. I expect this to be a game decided by the bullpens, and I hope the Yanks can keep up their post-All Star Break winning ways. But with Kei Igawa on the mound, it’s tough to be optimistic.
A bad start would exile him from New York. A good start would be great for the Yanks as a team but bad overall because Igawa would inevitably get rewarded with another start. Tonight, we’ll see what happens.