9/17-9/19 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays



Once upon a time, it looked like this series would play a huge role in the AL East race. The Blue Jays were offseason darlings and the Yankees are pretty much always in contention, so back in Spring Training it seemed like a late-season series between the two clubs would have a huge impact on the division. Instead, Toronto sits in last place and New York has already been relegated to wildcard or bust.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Jays were off yesterday just like the Yankees. They lost two of three to the Orioles over the weekend and have lost five of their last six games overall. Toronto is 68-81 with a -47 run differential, both the fifth worst marks in the league. Their next loss officially eliminates them from postseason contention.

At 4.4 runs per game with a team 98 wRC+, the Blue Jays are almost an exactly league average offense. They are without RF Jose Bautista (133 wRC+), IF Maicer Izturis (63 wRC+), and LF Melky Cabrera (86 wRC+) though, all of whom are out for the season with injury. CF Colby Rasmus (126 wRC+) recently came off the DL but is being eased back into things.

(REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

(REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

Manager John Gibbons has an elite power hitter in the middle of his lineup in 1B Edwin Encarnacion (144 wRC+). He still has more walks (82) and extra-base hits (66) than strikeouts (62). SS Jose Reyes (114 wRC+) is still as good as it gets in the leadoff spot and DH Adam Lind (127 wRC+) has had a strong bounceback year. 3B Brett Lawrie (95 wRC+) has been okay, as has UTIL Mark DeRosa (98 wRC+) in a reserve role. The lineup is pretty thinned out without Bautista and Rasmus.

C J.P. Arencibia (61 wRC+), OF Rajai Davis (84 wRC+), and IF Munenori Kawasaki (76 wRC+) are probably the only other guys on the roster everyone will recognize. OF Moises Sierra (152 wRC+ in very limited time) and 2B Ryan Goins (51 wRC+ in very limited time) both play regularly thanks to the injuries. CF Anthony Gose (76 wRC+ in limited time) and C Josh Thole (26 wRC+) are regulars on the bench while the crop of September call-ups include C Mike Nickeas and OF Kevin Pillar. Reyes and Encarnacion make this lineup dangerous by themselves, but the bottom of the order is really weak.

Starting Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP R.A Dickey
Dickey, 38, has a 4.36 ERA (4.65 FIP) in 31 starts this season after taking home the NL Cy Young Award last summer. Can’t imagine that’s what the Blue Jays thought they were getting when they made the trade over the winter. Dickey’s peripherals have declined across the board: 6.89 K/9 (18.1 K%), 2.98 BB/9 (7.8 BB%), 1.38 HR/9 (12.4% HR/FB), and 40.8% grounders. he uses just one mid-70s knuckleball 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 (.341 wOBA) have hit him harder than righties (.308 wOBA). The Yankees have faced Dickey a few times this season and he’s actually pitched quite well against them. He hasn’t dominated, but he hasn’t been a pushover either.

Happ. (Abelimages/Getty)

Happ. (Abelimages/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP Phil Hughes 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) four months ago. He’s made eight starts since returning from the DL and has pitched well in half of them, and overall he owns 5.15 ERA (4.14 FIP). The southpaw has missed enough bats (7.49 K/9 and 18.3 K%) and kept the ball in the park (0.98 HR/9 and 7.9% HR/FB), but his walk (4.66 BB/9 and 11.4 BB%) and ground ball (37.9%) 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 have seen Happ three times this year and have hit him hard twice.

Thursday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Todd Redmond
Redmond, 28, has a 4.10 ERA (4.19FIP) in eleven starts and three relief appearances this year as injuries have thinned out Toronto’s rotation. His strikeout (9.33 K/9 and 24.8 K%) and walk (2.69 BB/9 and 7.1 BB%) rates are stellar while the homer (1.41 HR/9 and 11.8% HR/FB) and ground ball (31.0%) numbers are underwhelming. 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 held the Yankees to two runs in 5.2 innings late last month, the only time he’s faced them.

Janssen. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Janssen. (Getty)

Bullpen Status
Like I said, the Blue Jays were off yesterday, so their bullpen is well-rested. Closer RHP Casey Janssen (2.96 FIP) is setup by RHP Steve Delabar (2.72 FIP), LHP Brett Cecil (2.88 FIP), RHP Sergio Santos (2.47 FIP in limited time), and LHP Darren Oliver (4.23 FIP). LHP Aaron Loup (3.28 FIP) and RHP Neil Wagner (4.21 FIP) handle the middle innings. The army of September call-ups includes RHP Kyle Drabek, RHP Jeremy Jeffress, RHP Chad Jenkins, RHP Dustin McGowan, LHP Luis Perez, and LHP Ricky Romero. Yes, that Ricky Romero.

The Yankees are in good bullpen shape and not just because of the off-day. The late-game trio of Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, and Shawn Kelley did not pitch at all this weekend and should be very well-rested. Boone Logan is still out with his elbow problem, however. Our Bullpen Workload page has the full recent reliever usage details. Check out Drunk Jays Fans and Tao of Stieb for the latest and greatest on the Blue Jays.

Categories : Series Preview


  1. mitch says:

    Random question: What happens if 3 teams tie for the WC? A 3 or even 4 team tie isn’t impossible.

  2. Eddard says:

    They need a sweep but won’t get it. May win 2/3 but more likely 1/3. Dickey has pitched well against the Yanks so tonight is a toss up. They’ve already lost Hiroki vs Redmond and who knows what Huff/Hughes will do. That’s why I think the season is over.

    • fabricio says:

      you forgot last tim they faced redmond Cano wasn’t in the lineup cause of he was hit on the hand so dont be a negative nancy and keep your hope dam it!!!

      • BFDeal says:

        He’s a negative nancy until they win and he changes his mind again. Eddard is the real life version of Randy Quaid in Major League.

      • Silvio says:

        If he’s a negative nancy, are you a positive polly? If I had to choose between such positions, gimme the negative nancy. The Pollys are always being mugged by the reality of the current Yankees.

        • fabricio says:

          im exactly that yea we had a bad series against the red sox so what we’re gonna rebound and do much better

        • gc says:

          How’s this for being negative: If you can’t find it in yourself to root for your team in spite of their flaws and have some kind of hope, especially in light of how hard they’ve fought to stay alive at the end of a very difficult season, then you can go fuck yourself. And take Eddard and all the other fair weather fans with you.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            +1, but I’d actually spare Eddard.

          • Silvio says:

            “If you can’t find it in yourself to root for your team….”

            Is there something in what I wrote that says, explicitly or implicitly, that I (definitely negative about the Y’s hopes) don’t root for them? If that’s what you think, you’re dumber than a toothpick (and so’s your fishy cheering section) and that’s why (I now can see) you’re so cheerful.

        • BFDeal says:

          Why the fuck do you negative assholes think you exclusivity on “reality”? Are you so stupid that you can’t comprehend a world where individuals can have positive or negative viewpoints and still be in touch with reality?

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            Being positive allows for less opportunity to dick-wave on the internet.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            Plus, much like middle school, the internet is about differentiating yourself by how discriminate you are.

            You like THAT band? Oh, they’re too popular. You’re not cool like I am. I like this band no one’s ever heard of….

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Which is why I’d rather be in a room full of Sox fans than a room full of Yankee fans like you.

          The funny thing about all this is that you never really know many Yankee fans like this in real life.

  3. SDB says:

    So who will Happ hit this time? Grandy again, or someone else?

  4. Kenny says:

    Yanks’ hitters (Grandy, are you paying attention?) should be ready to duck.

  5. NeilT says:

    Andy’s been pitching 6 great innings of late, so that’s going to be decided by the bullpen. Luckily Boston did the Yanks a favor by swatting them aside at the weekend, meaning Joe didn’t need to dial up his remaining core relievers. Kelley/DRob/Mo > what the Jays have. Yanks win.

    Assuming Hughes/Huff can get another decent 6+ innings, and the Yanks hit Happ around as they should, this will be a laugher for Phelps/Warren/Dellin to mop up.

    Hiroki’s been coming back around, so I can see him going 7 vs. Redmond who will be facing the Yanks for the second time and is therefore due to be smacked about a bit. Another easy win.

    There, a sweep for you.

  6. JGYank says:

    Must sweep but we’ll be saying a lot over the next two weeks. We should be fine as long as we control Encarnacion and keep Reyes off the bases. We really have to jump on their starters and that shouldn’t be too hard considering Dickey’s down year so we don’t have to score against their pen and ours has a nice lead. And Happ better not even think about backing guys off the plate. Honestly we don’t have much to lose.

  7. Darren says:

    Ok you motherfucker cocksucking bitches, here’s what were gonna do. Win 11 of 12, kick ass in the motherfucker play in game, sweep the fucking faces of meth looking Red Sox, beat the tigers in 6, and then play Donnie Baseball’s Dodgers in the world series.

  8. Darren says:

    Agreed! No offense or disparagement intended. Use of word is not meant to reflect the actual act or any type of individual.

  9. KenM says:

    Under/Over on the number of HBP by Happ?

  10. Pee Wee Herman Ruth says:

    Andy will get it done tonight.

  11. MannyGeee says:

    This just in, Encarnacion is out for the season with a wrist injury. So that’s something.

    Counterpoint, Adam Lind has Yankee Killer written all over him…

  12. Darren says:

    Rance Mulliniks. That is all.

  13. Eddard says:

    You can really tell things are bad when the rats start jumping ship as they are above. I jumped ship a long time ago, pushing the women and children out of the way and am safely in a life boat watching the whole ship sink into the icy water. In many ways the Yankees are akin to the Titanic. With their payroll they should be the most extravagant team in baseball and unsinkable, but it always comes down to the incompetence of the decision makers. They let that ship sink. They didn’t have enough life boats. Then to make matters worse, they only let women and children get in some of the boats so some of them left half full just like Cashman left this roster half full for much of the season.

    • Pee Wee Herman Ruth says:

      I didn’t know where you were going..

      But then… you went here

      Then to make matters worse, they only let women and children get in some of the boats so some of them left half full just like Cashman left this roster half full for much of the season.

      And now it all makes sense

    • JGYank says:

      That’s…… actually a decent comp.

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.