6/17-6/19 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

The Yankees are home from their nine-game road trip and will play their biggest series of the season (to date) starting tonight. The first place Blue Jays are in the Bronx for a three-game series, giving the Yankees a chance to make up some ground in the AL East race. The alternative is getting buried. The Bombers took two of three in Toronto back in April.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Jays went on an insane run last month, winning 20 of 24 games at one point. They’ve since lost six of nine, including two against the Orioles this past weekend. Toronto comes into the series with a 41-30 record and a +39 run differential. They are 4.5 games up on the Yankees.

The Blue Jays have one of the very best offenses in all of baseball. They average 4.70 runs per game with a team 112 wRC+, and they currently lead baseball with 92 homers. The Yankees have hit 55, by comparison. Toronto is currently without OF Colby Rasmus (105 wRC+), DH Adam Lind (155 wRC+), and IF Maicer Izturis (78 wRC+) due to injury. Rasmus (hamstring) could be activated off the disabled list this week and Lind (foot) is only day-to-day with a bruise. Izturis (knee) is out long-term.

(Rob Carr/Getty)

(Rob Carr/Getty)

Manager John Gibbons builds his lineup around baseball’s best three-four hitter combination: OF Jose Bautista (173 wRC+) and 1B Edwin Encarnacion (152 wRC+). They have 35 homers, 70 extra-base hits, 86 walks, and 91 strikeouts combined. SS Jose Reyes (105 wRC+) leads off and former Yankee OF Melky Cabrera (119 wRC+) gets the cushy job of batting second between Reyes and Bautista. Add in a healthy Lind and the top five of the Toronto lineup is devastating. I remember when the Yankees had a lineup like that.

3B Brett Lawrie (92 wRC+) headlines the rest of the lineup, and he has been spending some time at second base so 3B Juan Francisco (135 wRC+) and his huge lefty power can play against righties. OF Anthony Gose (89 wRC+) has been playing center while Rasmus is out and IF Steve Tolleson (122 wRC+ in limited time) is the backup infielder. Yes, he is Wayne’s son. The Jays are currently carrying three catchers — former Yankee C Dioner Navarro (83 wRC+), former Met C Josh Thole (106 wRC+ in limited time), and C Erik Kratz (80 wRC+) — for whatever reason.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. TOR) vs. RHP Marcus Stroman (No vs. NYY)
Stroman, 23, was the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 draft and he zoomed to the big leagues in less than two years. He has a 5.18 ERA (3.04 FIP) in 24.1 innings spread across three starts and five relief appearances so far, and both his walk (1.11 BB/9 and 2.7 BB%) and ground ball (56.0%) rates are excellent. Stroman has also kept the ball in the park (0.74 HR/9 and 7.7 HR/FB%) and kept righties in check (.303 wOBA), though lefties have crushed him (.426 wOBA) and his strikeout rate isn’t anything special (7.77 K/9 and 18.9 K%). A mid-90s four-seamer is his main offering and he uses it a lot, nearly 60% of the time. Stroman also throws a low-90s cutter, mid-80s sliders and changeups, and a low-80s curve. He’s a tiny little guy at 5-foot-9 and 185 lbs., but he’s got a huge arm.

Wednesday: RHP Chase Whitley (No vs. TOR) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (vs. NYY)
The 35-year-old Buehrle is currently in the middle of his best big league season, pitching to a 2.28 ERA (3.36 FIP) in 14 starts and 94.2 innings. His strikeout (5.23 K/9 and 14.2 K%) and ground ball (43.3%) rates are right in line with the rest of his career, but Buehrle has enjoyed an exceptionally low homerun rate so far (0.38 HR/9 and 4.0 HR/FB%). I can’t imagine that’ll stick given his division and home park. Buehrle is walking a career high number of batters (2.47 BB/9 and 6.7 BB%) and righties (.315 wOBA) are having some more luck against him than lefties (.273 wOBA). As always, Buehrle works in the mid-80s with his four-seamer, two-seamer, and cutter combination, mixing in some upper-70s changeups and low-80s curves. His current four-seam fastball average velocity (83.6 mph) is the lowest by a non-knuckleballer, non-Jamie Moyer pitcher during the PitchFX era.

Hutchison. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

Hutchison. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

Thursday: RHP David Phelps (vs. TOR) vs. RHP Drew Hutchison (vs. NYY)
Hutchison, 23, missed all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. He’s come back well, with a 3.62 ERA (3.88 FIP) in 14 starts and 82 innings so far this year. His peripherals — 7.68 K/9 (20.6 K%), 2.52 BB/9 (6.8 BB%), 1.10 HR/9 (9.5 HR/FB%), and 36.5% grounders — are solid but unspectacular across the board. He doesn’t have much of a platoon split at all, but it’s worth noting Hutchison has been far better on the road (.254 wOBA) than at home (.439) this season. A low-90s fastball is his bread and butter and he throws it a ton, more than 60% of the time. Mid-80s sliders and changeups round out the repertoire. The Yankees roughed Hutchison up for six runs in 3.1 innings back in April.

Bullpen Status
Like the Yankees, the Blue Jays were off yesterday, so both bullpens are pretty well rested coming into the series. Closer RHP Casey Janssen (1.73 FIP) anchors a relief crew that also includes setup men RHP Sergio Santos (5.75 FIP in limited time) and RHP Steve Delabar (5.24 FIP). LHP Brett Cecil (2.15 FIP) is currently dealing with a nagging groin issue and could be headed for the disabled list.

If Cecil does wind up on the shelf, Gibbons still has a solid southpaw in LHP Aaron Loup (3.37 FIP). He’s one of those classic funky delivery, low arm slot guys. RHP Todd Redmond (2.91 FIP) is the long man while RHP Dustin McGowan (4.70 FIP) and RHP Chad Jenkins (5.17 FIP) handle the middle innings. You can check up on the Yankees’ bullpen at our Bullpen Workload page. For everything you need to know about the Blue Jays, head over to Drunk Jays Fans.

Categories : Series Preview


  1. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

    We haven’t seen TomH this season yet. Maybe this time.

    Fuck the Jays. Yanks sweeeeeeeeeeeeep.

  2. Mike Myers says:


    Please dont ever post about Toronto with out taking out the Parrot


  3. Mike Myers says:

    Jeter breaks out… its gonna happen, see below!


    A classy cat, is always a classy cat.

  4. Jersey Joe says:

    Outside of Bautista, Encarnacion, and maybe Melky, there aren’t many intimidating batters, especially with Lind on the shelf. Let’s hope The True Yangee can get out of his slump and win this series!

    • ALZ says:

      Yes. Bautista has been a huge part of this team’s success so far. He had been solid before, but at 33 he is playing back to his peak level, which I did not expect.

    • Bolek says:

      How do they compare against the Yankees’ lineup when it comes to “intimidating” hitters?

    • FIPster Doofus says:

      I’m sure opposing pitchers are plenty wary of guys like Francisco and Reyes, as well, even if you’re not. Their offense is loaded.

  5. Aintgottime4that says:

    P Hughes 7-2 na everything is dandy in Yankee land.

    • I'm One says:

      And he would have done this as a Yankee this season after all the “success” he had in his last 2 years in pinstripes? Besides, what does this have to do with the Yankees vs. Toronto (other than the team’s need for additional starting pitching)?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      Phil Hughes won 18 games for the Yankees one year and made an All-Star team. What’s your point?

    • Old Man Time says:

      So he’s not good enough to be 9-0? Terry Ryan failed.

  6. ALZ says:

    Good chance to win this. Tanaka will bring his A game.

    • I'm One says:

      I was thinking the Yankees might take 2 of 3 as Whitley has been pitching quite well, but then I saw how well Buerhle is doing. Maybe he begins to come down to earth this series. Taking 2 of 3 from them would be great.

      • SevenAces says:

        I think Buerhle is due for some adjustments. Yankees are going to adjust him REEAAALLL GOOD…hopefully.

        • ChuckIt says:

          2nd time around for Tanaka against the BJ’s. The Cubs were an aberration.After tonight they won’t want to see him ever again.Whitley tomorrow-he’s got the goods,can he keep it going? And was that the real David Phelps standing up the last time out? Starting pitching KEY to this series.
          HEY Mccan-See that right field porch?USE IT !

  7. Hughes is not the first pitcher to leave the Yankees and thrive elsewhere. He was an Ed Whitson clone. Some guys just can’t do it in New York.

    • TWTR says:

      If it’s all about NY, why was Hughes so good as a reliever?

      I’ll answer my own question. It is about NY, but about park effects, not NY per se.

      • Darrend says:

        Yes, from Hughes’ comments, and especially Girardi’s, the new Stadium really got into Hughes’ head at some point and he couldn’t overcome it. As a starter, it’s probably a little more draining to try and avoid the long fly ball over the course of a game than it is a reliever.

        • TWTR says:

          His FB% is 45.8%. Last year it was 46.5%. But his HR/FB is 6.1%. Last year it was 11.1%.

          I wish they had kept him, but he would’t be this effective.

  8. SevenAces says:


  9. ChuckIt says:

    2nd time around for Tanaka against the BJ’s. The Cubs were an aberration.After tonight they won’t want to see him ever again.Whitley tomorrow-he’s got the goods,can he keep it going? And was that the real David Phelps standing up the last time out? Starting pitching KEY to this series.
    HEY Mccan-See that right field porch?USE IT !

  10. Frankie Cerveddardi says:

    Tonight’s pitching match up is the mismatch of all mismatches. They should be able to win and that gives them a good chance to get lucky in one of the other two games and take the series. These are the 3 best starters we have to throw at them right now.

  11. ChuckIt says:

    Beurhle is Kuroda with run support.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

      Ummmm, nope. Not by any measurement I can find.

      Buehrle: 2.28/3.36/4.20
      Kuroda: 4.33/3.96/3.79

      Only by xFip, and I’m still not sure I agree with how they find that number.

  12. Coolerking101 says:

    Wow, the Blue Jays hired Jason Sudeikis?

  13. Winn Dixie says:

    We own Buerhle and always have. The faces change but the results remain the same. He sees pinstripes and his knees get weak.

    If Phelps answers the bell, we’re a game and a half out on Sunday night.

  14. Pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero) says:

    Watch for Toronto swinging at the first pitch. Tanaka usually gets ahead and the first pitch is often the best pitch a hitter will see. Hopefully he will work the corners with a variety of first pitches.

  15. Frankie Cerveddardi says:

    I can’t believe Soley is not in the lineup today. He always comes back from a bad stretch with a good stretch. Even with his slump his overall numbers are twice as good as the Johnson/Roberts fiasco. When Kelly Johnson commits his 2nd error tonight Girardi better have an answer.

  16. ChuckIt says:

    All this talk about the Yanks not developing a home grown top line starter is absolutely correct.Every year,the rest of the MLB teams are coming up with 2 or 3 each. We all know that overall #1 picks are locks for the Hall,and top line pitchers virtually grow on trees.Position players also fall into this category.The Yanks should have had Jeters’ replacement ready to come in and start this year if he got hurt.Yes the Yankees player development downright stinks.
    GET YOUR HEADS OUT OF YOUR BUTTS! player development,no matter how much money invested,is still 90% LUCK of the DRAW.For every Andy Pettite there’s 12 Brandon Weedens,And for every Derek Jeter there’s 1000 Nunezs’.If this weren’t true MLB would have expanded to a half a million teams! GET A REALITY CHECK! Every season is not going to be 1998, And every 12 years is not going to produce a “core 4″.

    • Derek Jeter says:

      So Chuck, what’s your point? Developing MLB players is hard, everyone knows that… but the last 15 years produced what? Hughs, Joba,… garbage. And “LUCK” must be why we have D-Rob. Soo in 15 years we got 1 good season from Hughs, 2 good relef years from Joba, and 1 “try out” closer in Robertson. I do not expect 4 mlb ready players every year, but the Yankees player development has been a disaster, even taking into account lower draft picks due to winning, and trading away talent. Then again even the people we traded during this time haven’t produed much of anything. So yes, they do stink.

      • Old Man Time says:

        Funny how you guys always complain that they should’ve kept those guys they traded away…except when you want to complain about development, then those guys weren’t any good. They also developed Gardner, Cano, Betances, Warren, D-Rob, Whitley, JRM, and so on. Could they be better…definitely. But to say they only develop garbage is flat out false.

  17. Get Phelps Up says:

    Grady Sizemore DFA’d.

    At least he helped them win some Spring Training games…

  18. The Other Matt says:

    Steve Delabar optioned to AAA and the Blue Jays called up their fan favorite IF Muneori Kawasaki. But man, Delabar being optioned to AAA is kind of surprising. The guy was just an all-star last season, and while he hasn’t been particularly good this season, I’m quite surprised they sent him down. Particularly, when they are carrying three catchers, but I assume that one of them are probably the personal catcher for Dickey.

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