9/27-9/30 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

Missing a healthy Mark Teixeira
Cano remains productive amid slump
(Winslow Townson/Getty)

The Yankees and Blue Jays have already played four series in the second half, which includes nine of New York’s last 43 games. They’ll close out the season series with four games up in Toronto, which tends to be a house of horrors. The Yankees swept the Jays in the Bronx a week ago and lead the season series 9-5.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Blue Jays did the Yankees a favor by taking two of four from the Orioles this week, but they got their brains beat in yesterday. They’ve won just two of six since getting swept in the Bronx last week. Overall, the Jays are just 68-87 and stuck in last place in the AL East.


(Brad White/Getty)

Injuries have taken a toll on the offense, so the 4.4 runs per game average doesn’t really tell the whole story. The Blue Jays lost Jose Bautista (140 wRC+) to a wrist injury weeks ago, but they still have 42-homer man Edwin Encarnacion (155 wRC+). He was having some foot problems the last time these two clubs played, but he’s 100% now. That’s unfortunate.

The rest of the regular lineup is headlined by Brett Lawrie (92 wRC+), Moises Sierra (91 wRC+ in limited time), J.P. Arencibia (91 wRC+), and Adam Lind (91 wRC+). They’re the only other guys within ten percentage points of league average. Kelly Johnson (87 wRC+), Rajai Davis (86 wRC+), Colby Rasmus (84 wRC+), and Yunel Escobar (76 wRC+) are a bit below that. Anthony Gose (75 wRC+) has been disappointing overall, but he’s performed much better in September than he did in August. The rest of the position player crops features Jeff Mathis (69 wRC+), Omar Vizquel (46 wRC+), and a bunch of September call-ups: infielder Adeiny Hechavarria and utility men Yan Gomes and Mike McCoy.

Pitching Matchups

Thursday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Brandon Morrow
This was supposed to be a breakout year for the 28-year-old Morrow, who instead wound up missing more than two months with an oblique injury. He’s pitched to a 3.28 ERA (3.82 FIP) in his 19 starts though, so perhaps he was on his way to that breakout. The good news for Morrow is that his walk rate (2.87 BB/9 and 7.8 BB%) is a career-low, but so is his strikeout rate (7.71 K/9 and 21.0 K%). This is a guy that came into the season with a career strikeout rate north of ten per nine. The stuff is the same as always, a mid-90s four-seamer and a vicious upper-80s slider that is allergic to bats. He’ll also mix in a mid-80s splitter and a low-80s curveball. Morrow has decent career numbers against the Yankees but he’s always had this weird home/road thing going on against them. He dominates the Bombers in Toronto (1.26 ERA in 35.2 innings) but gets hammered in the Bronx (7.62 ERA in 28.1 innings). Unfortunately the Yankees are north of the border this week.

(J. Meric/Getty)

Friday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Chad Jenkins
Jenkins, 24, recently moved into the rotation after coming up as a reliever at midseason. He’d started throughout his minor league career so it wasn’t anything new to him, and he held the Rays to one run in five innings while on a pitch count last time out. The right-hander owns a 4.24 ERA (5.34 FIP) in 23.1 innings this year, but again most of that came in relief. His peripherals stats — 4.63 K/9 (12.0 K%), 2.70 BB/9 (7.0 BB%), 1.54 HR/9, and 39.7% grounders — leave an awful lot to be deserved. Jenkins is a four-pitch pitcher, though he didn’t use his low-80s changeup all that much coming out of the bullpen. Low-90s two- and four-seamers set up his low-to-mid-80s slider. He threw a 1-2-3inning against the Yankees a few weeks ago, his second career appearance in the show.

Saturday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. LHP Ricky Romero
This is will be the final start of Romero’s nightmare season, one that features a 5.76 ERA (5.19 FIP). The 27-year-old southpaw has set a new career-worst in every meaningful category, including strikeout (6.12 K/9 and 14.9 K%), walk (5.21 BB/9 and 12.7 BB%), and ground ball (53.7%) rates. The stuff is still the same — low-90s two- and four-seamers, low-80s changeup, upper-70s curveball — but his location has just been brutal. Romero’s been missing his spots and getting hit very, very. hard. The Yankees have faced the struggling left-hander four times this season, but the only time they really laid into him was back in July (six runs in six innings). In his last three starts against New York, Romero has allowed just six total runs in 20 innings.

Sunday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Aaron Laffey
Laffey, a former Yankee, has shuffled between the rotation and bullpen this year as injuries have decimated the pitching staff. The 27-year-old southpaw has pitched to a 4.52 ERA (5.56 FIP) in 95.2 total innings, relying on ground balls (49.4%) more than anything else. His strikeout (4.52 K/9 and 11.8 K%) and walk (3.48 BB/9 and 9.1 BB%) rates aren’t anything special. Laffey is a classic finesse lefty, sitting in the mid-80s with his four-seamer, cutter, and sinker. Low-80s sliders and changeups are his offspeed weapons of choice. The Yankees scored five runs off Laffey in three innings a week ago, and have hit him around a number of times this year in general.

There’s a decent chance that Henderson Alvarez will step in and start one of these games. He and Romero each started one end of a doubleheader earlier this week, so something has to give. Alvarez could start Saturday and push Romero back to Sunday, or he could start Sunday (pushing Laffey out of the series in both instances). Or he could not pitch at all. It’s unclear at the moment.

(Dave Reginek/Getty)

Bullpen Status
The recent doubleheader taxed manager John Farrell’s bullpen a bit, but yesterday’s blowout allowed some September call-ups to eat some innings while the core late-game relievers rested. Closer Casey Janssen (3.22 FIP) is setup by righty Brandon Lyon (3.01 FIP) and lefty Darren Oliver (2.85 FIP), plus the hard-throwing Steve Delabar (4.14 FIP) has thrown very well since being acquired from the Mariners at the trade deadline. Side-winding southpaw Aaron Loup (1.89 FIP) has pitched his way into a prominent role as well.

Jason Frasor (3.73 FIP) and Brad Lincoln (4.16 FIP) are the big names among the rest of the relievers, a group that is largely populated by call-ups. Farrell has five extra righties (David Carpenter, Joel Carreno, Chad Beck, Shawn Hill, Bobby Korecky) and one extra lefty (Brett Cecil) at his disposal. The Yankees have a relatively fresh bullpen thanks to CC Sabathia‘s eight innings yesterday, but make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload page for the exact details. For the latest and greatest on the Blue Jays, Drunk Jays Fans and Tao of Stieb are the places to go.

Missing a healthy Mark Teixeira
Cano remains productive amid slump
  • Syrio Forel/Better off Eddard/Occasional Troll

    Generic comment about how we need to execute because a 3 game lead would be nearly insurmountable.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    Hope we can take 3 of 4 but Morrow always saves his best pitching for us as does Romero. That young kid Alvarez has a future. He has good stuff and when he harnesses it he will be a force. Hoping all of them have off days against us. I’m not counting on anyone helping us against Baltimore.

    • gc

      Why is it some people always seem to assume that no other team or players can come through against Baltimore yet they automatically assume other teams and players will always be at their top performance level against the Yankees?? And don’t give me the “teams always get up for playing the Yankees” crap. That is unquantifiable nonsense. I can better understand and appreciate the argument that teams who are already out of it like to play their best at the end of the year and still affect the pennant races as spoilers, but somehow people assume they will always play better when it’s the Yankees they’re playing, while they will just roll over for the Orioles. smh

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        At least there aren’t any soft-tossing left-handed rookies…

      • Jose M. Vazquez

        If you understood my comment as you are saying, I’m sorry. Teams do seem to play harder against the Yankees at least in my view. I did not imply this in my comment but there it is.

    • Mister D

      Romero has a 4.76 career ERA versus New York.

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        …but 1.26 ERA against NYY in Toronto…

    • FIPster Doofus

      Henderson Alvarez will be a force? Not happening ever.

  • Mike Myers

    Is it just me or does Chad Jenkins look just like Phil Hugues in that photo?

    • JohnnyC

      I don’t know. What does Phil Hugues look like?

      • UpstateYanks


      • MannyGeee

        Phil Hugues… That’s Phil Hughes’ new faux-mustachio’d alter ego.

        • MannyGeee

          Kinda like Ricky Spanish…

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Is he better than Phil Phucking Halladay?

    • Slugger27

      i see more scott downs.

    • jesse

      I actually see a little A.J Burnett in the Steve Delabar photo.

  • Luisergi

    Jennings does have Alvarez pitching sunday. Isn’t he the guy that doesn’t strike anybody else out, but has like 2 starts in a row against the yankees with 6+ K’s??

  • CountryClub

    If the Yanks win just 4 of the final 7, The O’s would need to go 5-1 just to tie. Obviously, both of those thing could happen, but the Yanks are in good shape.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Indeed. The closer we get to the end, the harder it is for the team behind to overcome even the slimmest of leads

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Indeed. The closer we get to the end, the harder it is for the team behind to overcome even the slimmest of leads

  • MannyGeee

    betting on the split, but I would LOOOOOVE to see them sweep the leg and send the AAAA lineup (plus Tex @ DH) into the Red Sox series. the old guys could use the rest.

    • Mister D

      Plus we need the veteran-serves-as-manager game. I like those.

      • MannyGeee

        sweep the leg this weekend and Chavez, Ibanez AND Ichiro could all get a game in the drivers seat!