Archive for Toronto Blue Jays

Shoulda held out for a no-trade clause, Jose. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

The baseball world still seems to be reeling from the not-yet-completed Marlins-Blue Jays blockbuster. Players still have to take physicals and stuff, so it might be a week or so until this thing is final. Between this and the Dodgers-Red Sox blockbuster, these last four months have featured some insanely massive and historic trades.

1. The Marlins are such an embarrassment to baseball. At least they won the World Series immediately prior to their two other firesales, this time all they had was a publicly funding stadium. Seriously, they received $409M in public funding (on what was apparently false pretense) that will cost the city $2.4 billion (!) to pay off over the next 40 years. The Yankees pulled the same kinda public funding nonsense with their new building, but at least they field a competitive team year after year and generate a ton of revenue for themselves, the league, the city, etc. Could you imagine being a fan of that team right now? The Marlins are frauds and owner Jeff Loria is a crook. I say contract ‘em and sell the stadium for scrap.

2. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are suddenly pretty good. This trade alone isn’t enough to take them from 73 wins to 90+ wins and a division title — I feel like not enough people are talking about how bad of an idea it is for Jose Reyes to play 81 games a year on turf — but it sure will help. They need some of the guys they lost to injury this year (Jose Bautista and Brandon Morrow, specifically) to stay healthy and for Ricky Romero to #unsuck to really make a run at the AL East crown. Division titles aren’t won in November and December, Yankees fans should know that by now. Toronto always played the Yankees tough though, and this trade is going to make those games even tougher. Sucks.

3. If you were holding out hope that Alex Rodriguez would be traded to the Marlins this winter, you can forget it now. He’s not waiving his no-trade clause to go to that mess no matter how close the team is to his home. Moving him and his contract was a very long shot to start with, and now this latest Marlins firesale takes the most likely suitor out of play. A-Rod‘s here to stay, like it or not.

4. I know it’s coming and yes, of course the Yankees should look into acquiring Giancarlo Stanton. He’s obviously not happy …

… so bring him to New York and make him happy. What should they give up? Frankly I don’t care, give them whatever they want. I mean, could the Yankees really say no to Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, and Gary Sanchez for Stanton? No way. Stanton is ten months older than Heathcott for cryin’ out loud. He’s 20 months older than Williams and already has 93 career homers to his credit. He’s a franchise player the Yankees should go all out to acquire if he’s truly available, which I doubt he is just yet. The Marlins need someone to sell tickets next year and he’ll be the guy as long as he’s making the league minimum-ish, which he will next year. Come his first arbitration raise next winter — homers pay huge in arbitration, Prince Fielder pulled down $7M his first time through with 114 career homers and no major awards — all bets are off.

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The Blue Jays and Marlins are on the verge of completing a monster ten-ish player blockbuster that will send Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio to Toronto for Henderson Alvarez, Yunel Escobar, and various prospects. The deal is not official yet and reports are still trickling in about who those various prospects actually are, so I suggest checking out MLBTR every so often until this thing is finalized.

Toronto lost 89 games and a ton of players to injury last year, but this trade obviously improves their outlook for next season. We have all winter to analyze this deal and how it relates to the Yankees, but for now here’s a thread to discuss this monstrosity.

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Via MLBTR: The Yankees have claimed right-handed reliever David Herndon off waivers from the Blue Jays. The 27-year-old had Tommy John surgery in June and won’t return until the middle of next season.

Herndon has been a solid middle reliever for the Phillies over the last three years, pitching to a 3.85 ERA (4.27 FIP) in 117 innings. He’s a ground ball guy (44.3%) with unspectacular walk (3.23 BB/9 and 8.3 BB%) and strikeout (5.85 K/9 and 15.0 K%) rates. Philadelphia plucked him from the Angels in the 2009 Rule 5 Draft, and from what I can tell he has at least one and possibly two minor league options remaining. Extra bullpen depth is never a bad thing.

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The Blue Jays have claimed Cory Wade off waivers from the Yankees, the team announced. New York designated the right-hander for assignment last week. The 29-year-old Wade pitched very well for the Yankees after being signed off the scrap heap last season up until about his past June, when everything fell apart. I was a fan and hoped he would be able to figure things out, but alas.

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(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.

Offense

(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.

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Vizquel is definitely the cool uncle. (Claus Andersen/Getty)

The Yankees only have 16 games left to play this season, but seven of the 16 will be against the Blue Jays. The first three of those seven will be played this week in the Bronx. New York leads the season series 6-5.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Jays have lost four of their last six games by losing the first two games and winning the third in a pair of three-game series. Injuries have hit them hard, and they’re just 16-29 in their last 45 games. At 66-79 with a -37 run differential, Toronto is fending off the Red Sox for the AL East cellar.

Offense

(Brad White/Getty)

With a team 93 wRC+ and an average of 4.5 runs per game, the Blue Jays have been just a bit below an average offense this season. Of course those season numbers aren’t really an accurate representation of their injury depleted lineup, which is still without Jose Bautista (134 wRC+). You might remember him suffering what proved to be a season-ending wrist injury taking a swing against David Robertson earlier this year. Toronto still has Edwin Encarnacion (154 wRC+) though, and he’s currently second in the league with 40 homers. He’s basically the new Bautista.

Brett Lawrie (98 wRC+) recently came off the DL and is their second best healthy hitter right now. Colby Rasmus (88 wRC+) and Adam Lind (86 wRC+) have their moments, but both can be neutralized by left-handers. J.P. Arencibia (86 wRC+) recently came off the DL as well, and if nothing else he can hit the ball out of the park. Rajai Davis (86 wRC+), Kelly Johnson (84 wRC+), Moises Sierra (83 wRC+ in limited time), and Anthony Gose (81 wRC+ in limited time) haven’t been all that productive. Yunel Escobar (74 wRC+) is in some hot water and it’s unclear if the league will suspend him at some point. We’ll find out this afternoon.

Yorvit Torrealba (67 wRC+) and Jeff Mathis (74 wRC+) highlight the rest of Toronto’s position player crop. Omar Vizquel (38 wRC+) is the punchless utility infielder, and the lot of September call-ups includes Adeiny Hechavarria, Yan Gomes, and Mike McCoy. The Jays are healthier than the last time they played the Yankees, but they’re still missing a lot of their typical punch.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. LHP Ricky Romero
The nightmare season is almost over for the 27-year-old Romero, who has pitched to a 5.87 ERA (5.15 FIP) in 29 starts and 167 innings this summer. Two starts ago he allowed seven runs while recording just three outs. The strikeout (6.09 K/9 and 15.0 K%) and ground ball (53.1%) rates are career-lows while the walk (5.07 BB/9 and 12.4 BB%) and homer (1.08 HR/9) rates are career-highs. Yeah, it’s that bad. Romero is the same guy stuff-wise — low-90s four-seamer, low-80s changeup, upper-70s curveball — but his location is just terrible. The Yankees have both pounded and been shut down by the southpaw this year.

(Brad White/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez
Alvarez, 22, has the lowest strikeout rate (3.31 K/9 and 8.5 K%) among qualified starters in baseball this year, by nearly a full whiff per nine too, and yet he managed to set a season-high with six strikeouts against the Yankees a few weeks ago. His performance is in line with what you’d expect from an AL East pitcher who allows so much contact (4.91 ERA and 5.33 FIP), though he does mitigate the damage by limiting walks (2.72 BB/9 and 7.0 BB%) and getting grounders (57.3%). Alvarez uses two fastballs (low-to-mid-90s two- and four-seamers) to set up his two offspeed pitches (mid-80s slider and mid-80s changeup). The Yankees have seen him twice this year, once hammering him and once getting kept in check.

Thursday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Aaron Laffey
Injuries have forced the 27-year-old Laffey into the rotation this year, and the former Yankee has pitched to a 4.55 ERA (5.55 FIP) in 87 total innings for the Jays. He doesn’t strike anyone out (4.66 K/9 and 12.2 K%) but will get some grounders (49.6%), though he is homer prone (1.55 HR/9) and will occasionally walk himself into trouble (3.31 BB/9 and 8.7 BB%). Laffey is a soft-tosser as you probably remember from last season, routinely sitting in the mid-80s with the four-seamer and cutter while mixing in low-80s sliders and changeups. Classic kitchen sink approach. He’s faced the Yankees once in relief this year, with little success.

(Al Messerschmidt/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Like the Yankees, the Jays had Monday off and come into the series with a fresh bullpen. Manager John Farrell has a strong righty-lefty setup duo in Brandon Lyon (3.03 FIP) and Darren Oliver (2.91 FIP) in front of closer Casey Janssen (3.22 FIP). Southpaw Aaron Loup (1.98 FIP) has emerged as a dominant specialist, and Steve Delabar (4.26 FIP) has been surprisingly strong since coming over at the trade deadline. Long-time Blue Jay Jason Frasor (3.84 FIP) will also see some late-game work. The rest of the bullpen features deadline pickup Brad Lincoln (3.75 FIP) and a bunch of September call-ups: Chad Beck, David Carpenter, Joel Carreno, and Chad Jenkins.

Although Joe Girardi‘s core relievers had yesterday off, they have been worked hard of late as Ken Davidoff explained. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the exact details, but I don’t think you need me to tell you that David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and Rafael Soriano could use a few innings on the sidelines in blowouts this week. For the latest and greatest on the Blue Jays, we recommend Drunk Jays Fans and Tao of Stieb.

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(REUTERS/Patrick Smith)

The Yankees have 35 total games left to play this season and whopping ten of them will be against the Blue Jays. They’ve won five of eight against Toronto already this season, and the first three of those final ten will be played in the Bronx this week.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Jays were rained out yesterday, sparing them a potential eighth consecutive loss. Toronto has won just five of 23 games this month, dropping them to 56-70 (-37 run differential) on the season. They’re 17 back of the Yankees in the loss column and have the third worst record in the league.

Offense

(REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

The Blue Jays average a bit more than 4.5 runs per game with a team 96 wRC+, so they’re pretty much right in the middle of the pack offensively. Jose Bautista (138 wRC+) recently came off the DL after missing more than a month with a wrist problem originally suffered on a swing taken against David Robertson, but he felt more discomfort in the wrist in his second game back and has since been placed back on the DL. The Yankees are catching a break and won’t have to see the game’s greatest homerun hitter this week.

Injuries have decimated Toronto, but they still have the very dangerous Edwin Encarnacion (160 wRC+) anchoring the heart of the order. Regulars Yunel Escobar (69), Kelly Johnson (86), Adam Lind (87), and Colby Rasmus (91) have avoided the injury bug for the time being but are still underperforming. Moises Sierra (98 wRC+) have done well with his opportunity and Rajai Davis (97 wRC+) has been fine, but Mike McCoy (66 wRC+) and Adeiny Hechavarria (16 wRC+) have not. The catching tandem of Jeff Mathis (76 wRC+) and Yorvit Torrealba (72 wRC+) doesn’t scare anyone, and neither does Omar Vizquel (35 wRC+). The Jays are rolling with a three-man bench these days because of all the injuries to the pitching staff.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP David Phelps vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez
When these two clubs met last month, Alvarez struck out a career-high six batters while allowing two runs in six innings. The 22-year-old has managed to stay healthy and make 24 starts this season, pitching to a 4.84 ERA (5.18 FIP). His 3.43 K/9 (8.8 K%) is the second lowest among all qualified pitchers this year, better than only current Yankee Derek Lowe. Alvarez’s walk (2.51 BB/9 and 6.4 BB%) and ground ball (56.5%) rates are pretty excellent, however. He’s a three-pitch pitcher, with a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s and two mid-80s offspeed pitches (slider and changeup). Hopefully the Yankees make some adjustments from their last look at the young right-hander.

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

Tuesday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Ricky Romero
It’s been a disaster season for Romero, who in his last start became the first pitcher in four years and second pitcher in 21 years to walk eight while striking out zero. He owns a 5.63 ERA (5.17 FIP) with career worst strikeout (6.04 K/9 and 15.0 K%), walk (5.05 BB/9 and 12.9 BB%), and homer (1.05 HR/9) rates. His 54.1% ground ball rate is in line with career norms. Romero, 27, remains the same guy in terms of stuff — low-90s two- and four-seamer, low-80s changeup, upper-70s curveball — but his command has been awful and he’s making too many mistakes. The Yankees roughed him earlier this year and have seen enough of the southpaw in recent years to know what to expect.

Wednesday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP J.A. Happ
The Jays acquired Happ as part of a ten-player swap last month to help cover for some of those injuries, and he’s allowed just two earned runs total in his last two starts (6 IP vs. Rangers and 7.1 IP vs. Tigers). You might remember that he stifled the Yankees for about five innings a few weeks ago before things fell apart late. The 29-year-old Happ owns a 4.68 ERA (4.13 FIP) overall this year with strong strikeout (8.62 K/9 and 22.3 K%) and walk (3.27 BB/9 and 8.5 BB%) numbers. The ground ball rate (44.3%) is decent enough, but the homer rate (1.27 HR/9) is pretty terrible. Happ is a four-pitch guy, using two fastballs (two- and four-seamer) right at 90 and two breaking balls (low-80s slider and upper-70s curve). His low-80s change is a distant fifth offering, so maybe call him a 4.5-pitch guy.

Drop and drive. (Getty Images)

Bullpen Status
The rain out yesterday means manager John Farrell has a very fresh bullpen. They’re carrying eight relievers, highlighted by closer Casey Janssen (3.06 FIP) and the left/right setup duo of Darren Oliver (3.03 FIP) and Brandon Lyon (2.75 FIP). Second lefty Aaron Loup (1.87 FIP) has done well in his limited time, and the rest of the relief corps features right-handers Carlos Villanueva (4.96 FIP), Steve Delabar (4.64 FIP), and Brad Lincoln (3.79 FIP). The middle innings can be a little sketchy, but that late-game trio is sneaky good.

Joe Girardi went all-out for yesterday’s win, using Boone Logan, David Robertson, and Rafael Soriano for more than one inning apiece. Everyone else in the bullpen is well-rested, plus Robertson could be placed on the paternity list at any moment. Who the Yankees would call-up to replace him is anyone’s guess (Cory Wade just pitched yesterday). Check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact recent reliever usage, and then check out Drunk Jays Fans and Tao of Stieb for the latest and greatest on the Blue Jays.

Ticket Info

You can save 25-50% off tickets for the homestand with this link. Just sign up if, find the section they’d like to sit in and make an offer based on the savings shown here. There won’t be any shipping fees or any other nonsense like that either.

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(AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Things have gone exceedingly bad for the Blue Jays on the injury front this year, to the point where the sheer volume of pitching injuries is threatening records. The Yankees head north of the border for a three-game weekend series after taking three straight from the Jays in Yankee Stadium last month. Toronto swept a two-game series at Rogers Centre back in May.

What Have They Done Lately?

Losing. Lots and lots of Losing. The Blue Jays were just swept by the Rays in St. Pete and have lost nine of their last eleven games overall. At 53-58 with a -1 run differential, they sit in the AL East cellar with the fifth worst record in the league.

Offense

(REUTERS/Fred Thornhill)

The Yankees are catching a bit of a break this series, because Jose Bautista (140 wRC+) is still on the DL with the same left wrist injury he suffered swinging a bat the last two times these clubs met. Brett Lawrie (100 wRC+) was just placed on the DL with an oblique problem, Adam Lind (87 wRC+) is also out with a back strain, and J.P Arencibia (97 wRC+) is on the shelf with a broken finger. That’s four pretty important pieces for the Jays. Toronto have averaged 4.7 runs per game this year, but that number is down to 3.8 since Bautista got hurt.

Among the guys who are healthy, clearly the most dangerous is Edwin Encarnacion (157 wRC+). He ranks fourth in the league with 29 homers. Colby Rasmus (105 wRC+) and Yunel Escobar (72 wRC+) have both avoided the injury bug, ditto Kelly Johnson (90 wRC+), Rajai Davis (100 wRC+), and Jeff Mathis (79 wRC+). The rest of the lineup is filled with call-ups, including David Cooper (109 wRC+), Yan Gomes (49 wRC+), Moises Sierra (113 wRC+), Anthony Gose (43 wRC+), and defensive whiz Adeiny Hechavarria (-22 wRC+). All of those numbers come in limited samples, most in fewer than 100 plate appearances. Omar Vizquel (43 wRC+) is still kicking around as well. Sometimes all these call-up types can surprise you, but the obvious key to the series is keeping Encarnacion in check.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Freddy Garcia vs. LHP Ricky Romero
In a year of injuries, Romero’s drastic drop-off in performance might be the worst development for the Jays this season. The 27-year-old southpaw has pitched to a 5.47 ERA (5.06 FIP) with a mediocre strikeout rate (6.39 K/9 and 16.0 K%), a bad walk rate (4.87 BB/9 and 12.2 BB%), and a strong ground ball rate (53.6%). Romero’s two and four-seamer both still sit in the low-90s, and he still uses an upper-70s curve against lefties and a low-80s changeup against righties. His location and command have just been awful — he’s not throwing enough strikes, and when he does hit the zone he’s catching too much of the plate. The Yankees hung six runs in six innings against Romero a few weeks ago.

(Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Saturday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. LHP Aaron Laffey
A brief and former Yankee, Laffey has stepped into Toronto’s rotation due to injuries. He owns a 4.39 ERA (4.98 FIP) in eight starts and four relief appearances, though he isn’t striking anyone out — 4.88 K/9 and 13.0 K%. He is doing well in the walk (2.28 BB/9 and 6.1 BB%) and ground ball (49.7%) departments, however. Laffey’s sinking fastball sits in the mid-to-upper-80s, and he backs it up with a low-80s slider, a low-80s changeup, and an upper-70s curveball. These soft-tossing lefties can be tough as the Red Sox have found out (twice) this year.

Sunday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP J.A. Happ
The Jays acquired Happ from the Astros and initially used him out of the bullpen, but injuries forced him into the rotation like Laffey. The 29-year-old has pitched to a 4.98 ERA (4.28 FIP) overall, with an excellent strikeout rate (8.56 K/9 and 21.7 K%) and decent walk (3.50 BB/9 and 8.9 BB%) and ground ball (45.0%) percentages. Happ throws his fastball right around 90, and his array of offspeed weapons includes a low-80s slider, a low-80s changeup, and an upper-70s changeup. The Yankees and their fans right remember him from his two relief appearances in the 2009 World Series.

(Al Messerschmidt/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Toronto’s bullpen looks very different than the one we saw earlier in the year due to trades and injury. Closer Casey Janssen (2.85 FIP) threw 30 pitches in garbage time yesterday, which could help the Yankees tonight. Left-handed setup man Darren Oliver (2.57 FIP) threw 11 pitches yesterday, so he’s good to go. The only other reliever manager John Farrell had to use against the Rays yesterday was funky lefty Aaron Loup (2.03 FIP in limited time), who needed just 19 pitches to record four outs.

The rest of the Blue Jays’ bullpen is in good shape and is entirely right-handed. There’s setup man Brandon Lyon (2.54 FIP), hard-throwing middle man Steve Delabar (4.61 FIP), former fourth overall pick Brad Lincoln (3.50 FIP), and the recently recalled Chad Jenkins (1.75 FIP in three innings). The Yankees are in pretty rough shape bullpen-wise, with Rafael Soriano coming off back-to-back appearances (and a four-out save yesterday) and David Robertson just a day removed from a 35-pitch outing. Other than those two, they should be fine. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact details, and check out Drunk Jays Fans and Tao of Stieb for the latest and greatest on the Jays.

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(REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

The Yankees have 74 games left to play this season, and 15 16 of them will be against the Blue Jays. That’s basically one out of every five games. Three of those 15 games will be played this week, starting tonight in the Bronx.

What Have They Done Lately?

Toronto just took two straight from the Indians but have won just five of their last eleven games overall. They’ve hovered right around .500 all season long and are currently 45-44 overall, good enough to put them in a last-place tie with the Red Sox. Their +26 run differential is the third best in the division and sixth best in the league.

Offense

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Only two teams have scored more total runs than the Blue Jays this season. They average just shy of five full runs per game on offense (4.99 to be exact) and own a team 104 wRC+. The guys who do the most damage are, naturally, Jose Bautista (142 wRC+) and Edwin Encarnacion (160 wRC+). They rank second and fourth in the AL with 27 and 25 homers, respectively. They’re not quite vintage David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, but Bautista-Encarnacion is one of the game’s very best three-four lineup combinations.

Beyond those two, Toronto also has a surging Colby Rasmus (113 wRC+) and a bunch of guys who rate right around league average: Brett Lawrie (102 wRC+), personal fave Kelly Johnson (100 wRC+), and Adam Lind (93 wRC+). Lind has hit very well since returning from Triple-A, but it’s only been 16 games. Rajai Davis (86 wRC+) brings the speed, J.P. Arencibia (85 wRC+) the power, Yunel Escobar (72 wRC+) the contact skills, and Omar Vizquel (33 wRC+) gives sweet veteran presents. Ben Francisco (78 wRC+) hasn’t played much due to a hamstring issue and Jeff Mathis (120 wRC+) hit the snot out of the ball in April before crashing back to Earth. The Jays are always tough and this series will be no different.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez
The Blue Jays currently have four starting pitchers on the DL, but Alvarez has been able to avoid the injury big so far. The 22-year-old right-hander owns a 4.36 ERA (5.19 FIP) because he gets ground balls (59.1%) and limits walks (1.93 BB/9 and 5.0 BB%), though his strikeout rate (3.02 K/9 and 7.9 K%) is the second lowest among qualified starters behind Derek Lowe. Alvarez just doesn’t miss bats despite throwing four distinct pitches: low-to-mid-90s two and four-seamers, a mid-80s slider, and a mid-80s changeup. Left-handed batters have hammered him for a .375 wOBA (.318 vs. RHB) as well. The Yankees saw Alvarez once last September, hanging five runs on him in six innings.

(REUTERS/Frank Polich)

Tuesday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Brett Cecil
Cecil absolutely annihilated the Yankees back in 2010 — ten total runs allowed in five starts — but he’s not the same pitcher anymore. Toronto sent him all the way down to Double-A earlier this year before the injuries forced him back into the rotation, where he’s pitched to a 6.75 ERA (5.66 FIP) in five starts to far. Cecil can still strike guys out a bit (7.09 K/9 and 17.5 K%) and he doesn’t walk a ton (3.38 BB/9 and 8.3 BB%), but he is one of the game’s most extreme fly ball (26.5% grounders) and homerun (2.03 HR/9) pitchers. His fastball has dipped down into the mid-to-upper-80s, creating little separation with his low-80s changeup. A mid-80s slider and upper-70s curveball round out his repertoire. The Yankees have seen quite a bit of Cecil over the last few years, and he’s gotten progressively worse each time.

Wednesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Ricky Romero
At this time last season, Romero looked like he was in the middle of a breakout season and on his way towards becoming one of the game’s elite hurlers. The 27-year-old southpaw has taken a big step back this year though, posting a 5.03 ERA (5.18 FIP) in 19 starts. His ground ball rate (55.7%) is holding on strong, but the strikeout (6.34 K/9 and 16.1 K%) and walk (4.64 BB/9 and 11.7 BB%) numbers have taken huge steps backwards. Romero’s stuff — low-90s two and four-seamers, low-to-mid-80s changeup, mid-to-upper-70s curve — remains unchanged, but his command has been off. He’ll falling behind in the count far too often — 51.5% first pitch strikes this year, down almost 9% from the last few years — and getting pounded because of it.

(J. Meric/Getty Images)

Bullpen Status
The Indians worked Toronto’s bullpen over pretty well these last few days, forcing lefty reliever extraordinaire Darren Oliver (2.81 FIP) to throw two innings for the save yesterday. Regular closer Casey Janssen (3.04 FIP) had appeared in each of the previous two games. Right-hander Jason Frasor (3.65 FIP) has also worked in two of the last three games and is the third wheel in manager John Farrell’s late-inning trio.

Because their rotation has been so compromised, the Jays are currently employing a 13-man pitching staff. You’ve never heard of most of them either. Aaron Loup (3.07 FIP in two innings) is their only other southpaw besides Oliver, then you have Chad Beck (5.13 FIP in 5.1 innings), Drew Carpenter (10.57 FIP in two innings), and Sam Dyson (one whole out recorded so far). Oh, and then there’s the veteran Francisco Cordero (5.68 FIP), who has been one of the two or three worst qualified relievers in baseball this year. If the starter can get them through six innings, Toronto is generally okay. If not, all bets are off.

The Yankees’ key late-inning guys all got some rest yesterday, so they’re in good shape Make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact reliever usage. There are a number of great sites you can check out for the latest and greatest on the Blue Jays, including Drunk Jays Fans and Tao of Stieb.

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Via Dan Barbarisi, the Yankees have claimed right-handed reliever Ryota Igarashi off waivers from the Blue Jays. He’s been optioned to Triple-A Empire State and Brad Meyers was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot.

Igarashi, 33, owns a 6.17 ERA and a 4.42 FIP in 70 big league innings with the Mets and Blue Jays. He can strike guys out with a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s splitter (8.87 K/9 and 20.6 K%), but he’s also walk prone (6.17 BB/9 and 14.3 BB%). Seems like a move designed to add a little up-and-down bullpen depth due to David Robertson‘s injury.

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