8/26-8/28 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

Yankees trade short-term bullpen quality for long-term depth by keeping Joba over Claiborne
Yankees officially activate Jeter, send Preston Claiborne to Triple-A
The series now shifts north of the border. (Presswire)
The series now shifts north of the border. (Presswire)

If the Yankees are going to sneak into the postseason, they’re going to have to pound the crap out of bad teams like the Blue Jays. They did just that last week with four wins over the Jays in three days at Yankee Stadium. Now they’re up in Toronto for another three games. Time to pad that win total.

What Have They Done Lately?
After getting swept in the Bronx, the Blue Jays went to Houston and lost two of three to the Astros. They actually lost seven straight before winning yesterday’s series finale. Toronto is 58-73 with a -56 run differential overall. That’s good for last place in the AL East and the fourth worst record in the league.

With an average of 4.5 runs per game and a team 99 wRC+, the Jays are essentially league average offensively. Their entire starting outfield — Jose Bautista (134 wRC+), Colby Rasmus (122 wRC+), and Melky Cabrera (86 wRC+) — is on the DL, as is IF Maicer Izturis (63 wRC+). None of the four is expected to return this series.

Reyes. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Reyes. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Even without Bautista, manager John Gibbons still has an elite power hitter in 1B Edwin Encarnacion (145 wRC+). I said this in last week’s preview, but it’s worth repeating: Encarnacion has more walks (72) and extra-base hits (59) than strikeouts (55). Elite. SS Jose Reyes (116 wRC+) sets the tone atop the lineup while DH Adam Lind (125 wRC+) and 3B Brett Lawrie (103 wRC+) provide support in the middle. Lawrie has been hitting very well over the last month or so (145 wRC+ over the last 30 days).

The rest of the lineup is filled out by UTIL Mark DeRosa (100 wRC+), Yankee killer OF Rajai Davis (78 wRC+), C J.P. Arencibia (74 wRC+), IF Munenori Kawasaki (74 wRC+), OF Anthony Gose (73 wRC+), OF Kevin Pillar (31 wRC+ in very limited time), and OF Moises Sierra (-20 wRC+ in very limited time). IF Ryan Goins (104 wRC+ in very limited time) and backup C Josh Thole (37 wRC+) round out the bench. Although their overall season numbers are strong, the Blue Jays are much different team without Bautista and, to a lesser extent, Rasmus and Melky.

Starting Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP R.A. Dickey
Dickey, 38, dominated the Yankees pretty well last week before hanging a knuckleball and surrendering the go-ahead two-run homer to Alfonso Soriano in the late innings. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner has a 4.49 ERA (4.72 FIP) in 27 starts with peripherals that have declined across the board: 6.99 K/9 (18.3 K%), 3.01 BB/9 (7.9 BB%), 1.43 HR/9 (13.0% HR/FB), and 41.0% grounders. Dickey uses just one knuckleball in the mid-70 these days, having apparently lost the second low-80s knuckler that made him so effective last year. A low-80s fastball is his get-me-over-pitch. Lefties (.349 wOBA) have hit him harder than righties (.301 wOBA). The Yankees have faced Dickey a few other times this year aside from last week, plus they know him from interleague play against the Mets.

Happ. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Happ. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Tuesday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. LHP J.A. Happ
The 30-year-old Happ was carted off the field after taking a line drive to the side of the head and suffering a very small skull fracture (and knee strain) three months ago. He’s made four starts since returning from the DL and has pitched quite well in two of them, and overall he owns 5.10 ERA (4.35 FIP). The southpaw has missed enough bats (7.08 K/9 and 17.6 K%) and kept the ball in the park (0.83 HR/9 and 6.3% HR/FB), but his walk (4.94 BB/9 and 12.2 BB%) and ground ball (35.5%) rates are well-below-average. Happ is a five-pitch guy, sitting right around 90 mph with both his two and four-seamer. Both his slider and changeup come in in the low-80s, his curveball in the mid-70s. The Yankees tagged Happ for four runs on three hits and five walks in 5.1 innings last week.

Wednesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Todd Redmond
Redmond, 28, was the only Blue Jays starter the Yankees did not see during the four-game series last week. He’s got a 4.44 ERA (4.41 FIP) in eight starts and three relief appearances this year, though his strikeout (9.64 K/9 and 24.9 K%) and walk (2.86 BB/9 and 7.5 BB%) rates are stellar. The homer (1.54 HR/9 and 12.1% HR/FB) and ground ball (30.8%) numbers … not so much. Redmond uses sinkers and four-seamers right around 90 mph to setup his bread-and-butter low-80s slider. He uses the slider almost three out of every ten pitches. Low-80s changeups and upper-70s curveballs are his rarely-used fourth and fifth offerings. Redmond only has a dozen big league appearances to his credit and he’s never faced the Yankees.

Loup. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty)
Loup. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Gibbons’ bullpen is in decent shape even though former Yankee Chien-Ming Wang lasted just three innings on Saturday. Closer RHP Casey Janssen (2.82 FIP) threw 20 pitches nailing down yesterday’s save and was the only reliever used thanks to Mark Buehrle’s eight innings of work. RHP Darren Oliver (4.40 FIP) and RHP Sergio Santos (2.89 FIP) handle setup duties while LHP Aaron Loup (3.53 FIP), LHP Brett Cecil (2.90 FIP), and RHP Neil Wagner (3.91 FIP) handle the middle innings. RHP Chad Jenkins (6.03 FIP in very limited time) is the long man. Wang was designated for assignment today to clear a roster spot for Loup, who returned from paternity leave. Remember when letting CMW go to a division rival was a huge mistake earlier this year? Me neither.

The Yankees have a bullpen mess on their hands thanks to yesterday’s extra innings affair as well as all the other recent close games. Things will get worse today when the club sends Preston Claiborne down to make room on the roster for Derek Jeter. Yeah, it’s great the Cap’n will be back, but keeping Joba Chamberlain over Claiborne will make the bullpen weaker in the short-term. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage, then check out Drunk Jays Fans and Tao of Stieb for info on the Blue Jays.


Yankees trade short-term bullpen quality for long-term depth by keeping Joba over Claiborne
Yankees officially activate Jeter, send Preston Claiborne to Triple-A
  • dkidd

    is john gibbons a terrible manager? i’ve always assumed so but i’m realizing i have nothing to back it up

    • Darren

      This comment sums up the internet.

  • Eddard

    I think they win 2/3. They lose the obligatory Phil Hughes start tonight. They’ve beaten Dickey this year but he’s pitched well against them. Overbay beat him late with a HR earlier this year and then Soriano last week. They’ll win Andy’s and Hiroki’s start to win the series. Oakland and Boston have tough match ups so they need to gain at least one game in this series.

  • JLC 776

    Dare I say it?

    Most Important Series of the Year (8th edition)

  • trr

    I’m calling for a sweep!

  • pat

    All this crap about us having to get fat on weak parts of the schedule leads me to believe we’ll lose 2/3.

  • http://www.penuel-law.com/ Cuso

    Kinda wish the Jays won 2 in Houston. Law of averages says they aren’t going to be doormats this series

    • RetroRob

      They are a MLB team with decent talent that just didn’t gel this year. Similar to when the Yankees went in to play the White Sox when the Sox were at a low point, your fear is they will break out, as all teams do. The Blue Jays are more than capable of returning the favor and sweeping the Yankees. Here’s to hoping they stay cold until the Yankees get out of town.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    We’re gunna muradalize ’em.

    In all seriousness, Dickey always worries me, as you never know when he’s going to be truly on. Other than that, your off-seasons champs don’t scare me in the least.

  • OldYanksFan

    These are 3 MUST WIN Games. Yes, we want to Win all games, but the truth is, it will be hard to play .750 baseball against the Sox(7), Baltimore(7) and TB(3). We must beat up on the BJs(6), Houston(3), SF(3) and the White Sox(3).

    Of those 15 games, at least 12 must be Wins.
    If we win 11 of the 17 against the Big Boys, that’s 92 Wins for the season…. which MAY squeak us into the PS.

  • Chris

    They need 2 of three and preferably a sweep, although that is asking a lot after taking 4 last week from Toronto. They are running out of time and need to be picking up a game on Cleveland, Oakland and anyone else they can that is ahead of them each series. The Yankees have the 5th easiest schedule the rest of the way. The only problem with that is the four with easier schedules are all ahead of them in the standings.

  • OldYanksFan

    I will repeat….. Oakland has a SUPER EASY schedule. I don’t believe we can pass them. Houston(4), Minn(7), LA(6) and Seattle(3). 20 games against 4 of the worst 5 teams in the AL.

    We must pass either Boston or TB.

    • mitch

      Disagree. OAK isn’t that great in the first place. You’re also forgetting to mention the 10 straight games they have against DET, TB, and TEX starting tonight. I don’t think both WC teams coming out of the AL east is out of the question.

  • Joe

    Harvey tore his ucl discuss.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I can hear my Met fan friends screaming “THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.”

      That really, really sucks. Ugh.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek Roadgeek Adam

        Losing Mejia, Hefner and Harvey in a week’s span screams 1987, when they all went down.

        The unfortunate part is that we replaced them with Dice-K…

        _______. (Carlos Torres playing Thursday, but not announced).

        If we lose Hefner and Harvey to TJS, ugh…

        • Robinson Tilapia

          ….and Yankee fans complain.

          For those of you who wonder why the guy in the Met cap hates you, that’s why.

          I really wish they’d catch a break.

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek Roadgeek Adam

            I’ve stated more than once on this site that I cheer for both teams, the sin that it is.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              This is what saddens me most, and I quote:

              “This is why, as a Mets fan, you just don’t jump on the first bandwagon that comes rolling by. This was sadly due.”

              Just posted by a friend of mine. It’s become a culture of expecting bad things to happen.

              When they swept the Yanks earlier, another friend said, completely deadpan, “I don’t know why they bother winning.”

              They root for their team like no other, though, and Yankee fans question their fandom when the team is only fighting for a WC spot.

              • http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek Roadgeek Adam

                I’m not surprised Harvey’s got a torn UCL. It just happens this was found at the worst time possible when the Mets are down 2 starters already. Maybe the pain would be less on the fans because the team would’ve had more starters if Harvey was lost.

                Kid throws hard, its bound to happen. If surgery occurs, I’d be afraid if his velocity is down.

                • MannyGeee

                  One could say that it happened at the best possible time, which is when they are not competing for a playoff spot and are realistically 2 seasons away from making a run of any substance.

                  If it was going to happen at one point or another (fair to say for any young pitcher today)… better now than in 2015 when there might be a playoff spot at stake.

                  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek Roadgeek Adam

                    A lot of people thought with Wheeler and Harvey’s inning limits gone and a good Ike Davis, David Wright, etc, that they would compete next year.

            • Kiko Jones

              I was brought up to root for both. But while I don’t bear ill will towards the Mets, my loyalties are with the Bronx.

        • MannyGeee

          You seem incredibly rational considering that by this post, we can assume you’re a Mets fan of some form or another?

          Maybe I was supposed to know this already, but apparently I didn’t.

      • MannyGeee

        This is what happens when you hit Cano during the All Star Game. Jus Sayin

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Also, Cashman failed.

    • dkidd

      that’s terrible news. being a mets fan is agonizing. hope some rest is all it takes, but that seems unlikely

    • Frank

      This, right after I forced myself to say nice things about the Mets, their future, and their Ace – Matt Harvey – all to my brother in law, in an effort to keep family peace at this weekend’s BBQ.

      This, after I had to hear about all the trouble the Yankees have had this year with injuries – and I kindly rebutted that we’re still in the playoff hunt – and didn’t respond to, “Yeah, you’re not making the playoffs.” and… “The Yankees are old, but the Mets have a bright future!”

      I’m just glad I don’t have to say anything at the next BBQ.

    • RetroRob


      I’m not a Mets fan, obviously, but I never like seeing a great young talent face a potentially devastating injury. Fortunately, even if it leads to TJS his prognosis is good, but a lost year and a still 10% chance it doesn’t take is not something any team wants.

    • Mike HC

      Terrible news. I just got dragged to the Mets game on Sat (Harvey vs Scherzer) by a couple of my Mets fan friends and we were arguing the odds of Harvey sustaining this level of success for the next several years. I was kind of arguing that I would bet against Harvey being this good, and this might be the best season of his career. Being Mets fans, my friends sadly kinda didn’t disagree with me.

  • MB923

    Sucks to hear about Harvey. I liked the guy. Strange that it happens the same night that Jeter returns.

    • Wheels

      It would be stranger if today was the first time Jeter has returned, not the third.

  • Get Phelps Up

    The Royals are really doing us a solid.

  • the Real Greg

    At this point what pitcher isn’t getting Tommy John surgery?

  • the Real Greg

    Mets were expected to be a big spender in the offseason and might have been relevant next year. That now goes out the window if Harvey has TJS.

  • EndlessJose

    It will suck if Harvey needs TJ.Most people act like it’s routine but most pitchers don’t come back the same.In this day and age developing pitchers is more about luck than grooming.