Archive for Toronto Blue Jays
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brett Lawrie is going to get suspended and the Yankees are arriving in Toronto just in time for him to a miss a few games. The tirade you see above was the result of two questionable called strikes last night, and they just so happened to result in
the game-ending strikeout a strikeout that was the second out of the ninth inning. That’s pretty bad. Lawrie might appeal the suspension and be able to play in this two-game set, but … yeah, that’s really bad. Inexcusably bad.
What Have They Done Lately?
Like the Yankees, the Blue Jays just wrapped up a two-game series with a division rival. They lost both games to the Rays and are currently riding a three-game losing streak. They’ve also lost four of five and seven of their last ten games. Toronto is 19-18 with a +15 run differential, sitting in fourth place in the AL East with the fifth best record in the AL. It’s a tough division, you know.
With an average of 4.51 runs per game that just barely ranks as a top-ten mark in baseball, the Blue Jays’ offensive attack revolves around Jose Bautista. He’s off to a slow start (100 wRC+) but has still hit eight homers with as many walks (23) as strikeouts (23). Blame the .171 BABIP. Edwin Encarnacion (150 wRC+) has hit a dozen homers already and is in the middle of a breakout year that really started in the middle of last season. They’re easy to overlook when talking about the best lineup tandems in the game, but these two are incredibly dangerous.
Personal fave Kelly Johnson (123 wRC+) sets the table from the leadoff spot and is actually the only other player on the team that qualifies as a better than league average hitter. Adam Lind (62 wRC+) has been terrible for more than two years now, meaning Johnson, Colby Rasmus (68 wRC+), and Eric Thames (90 wRC+) are Toronto’s only left-handed hitters of note. Catcher J.P. Arencibia (72 wRC+) got off to a brutally slow start but has started to rebound in recent weeks. Yunel Escobar (63 wRC+) hasn’t done much damage despite hitting second between Johnson and Bautista.
The Jays have some useful pieces on the bench, though I’m sure they’d like Ben Francisco to do more against left-handers (73 wRC+ vs. LHP). Rajai Davis provides some speed (105 wRC+ and six steals in limited action) and Omar Vizquel (-20 wRC+) gives some of the best veteran presents in all of baseball. Assuming Lawrie’s little hissy fit keeps him and his 101 wRC+ off the field, Vizquel figures to man the hot corner. Backup catcher Jeff Mathis (126 wRC+ in limited action) has been hammering the Yankees for years and I’m hopeful we won’t see him at all after playing in yesterday’s game.
Wednesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Kyle Drabek
The centerpiece of the Roy Halladay trade, Doug’s son has struggled in his various big league auditions and this season is no different. He owns a shiny 3.66 ERA but his FIP (5.12), strikeout (7.55 K/9 and 19.5 BB%), walk (5.49 BB/9 and 14.2 BB%) and homer (1.37 HR/9) rate portend bad things. Drabek’s ground ball rate (56.4%) is pretty awesome, however. The 24-year-old right-hander is very fastball heavy, throwing his mid-90s two-seamer, mid-90s four-seamer, and low-90s cutter a combined ~75% of this time. His mid-80s changeup is his primary offspeed pitch, but Drabek will throw low-80s sliders and curveballs on rare occasions. The Yankees have seen Drabek a few times over the last few years, so they should know that patience is the key.
Thursday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Drew Hutchinson
Toronto’s ninth best prospect coming into the season, Hutchinson has pitched to a 5.53 ERA (4.07 FIP) in his five starts, becoming the only man to allow a homer to Albert Pujols this season along the way. The 21-year-old righty has a pretty typical rookie statistical profile — 6.83 K/9 (16.9 K%), 3.25 BB/9 (8.1 BB%), 0.98 HR/9, and 42.2% grounders — after skipping right over Triple-A and making just six career starts at Double-A. His minor league track record (26.0 K% and 6.0 BB%) suggest improvement may be coming. Hutchinson is primarily a low-90s four-seamer/low-80s slider pitcher, but he will mix in the occasional two-seamer and changeup.
Like the Yankees, the Blue Jays are currently on their backup backup closer. Sergio Santos has been on the DL for most of the season with a shoulder injury and replacement Francisco Cordero (7.16 FIP) has already lost the job to Casey Janssen (4.01 FIP). The setup tandem of right-hander Jason Frasor (2.67 FIP) and left-hander Darren Oliver (2.61 FIP) have been really, really good in the early going. Multi-inning lefty Luis Perez (3.07 FIP) has been solid but multi-inning righty Carlos Villanueva (5.39 FIP) has not. Rookie right-hander Evan Crawford has allowed two runs in five innings since being called up.
Frasor, Oliver, and Janssen each appeared in last night’s game but threw no more than 11 pitches. The entire bullpen is rested, really. The Yankees are in good shape as well after Freddy Garcia soaked up two innings last night. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for each reliever’s exact recent workload. There are a bunch of great Blue Jays’ blogs out there, including The Tao of Stieb and Drunk Jays Fans.
Last week we took a nice long look at the teams who figure to be the Yankees’ primary competition this season, meaning the Red Sox, Rays, Tigers, Angels, and Rangers. There are eight other clubs in the American League though, and the Yankees are going to play those eight teams quite a bit more than the five other contenders. Most of those eight teams aren’t very good, but every game counts the same.
Rather than doing a boring old offense/defense/pitching preview for each of those eight non-contenders, I decided to have a little fun with this one and put together some haikus. I encourage you to leave your own in the comments.
No pitching, few bats.
Buck is all talk and no bite.
Don’t dare dis Flanny!
Chicago White Sox
Rebuild or contend?
Kenny can’t seem to decide.
I wish we had Danks.
Some funny names,
Asdrubal and Ubaldo?
Not winning this year.
Kansas City Royals
Hosmer is the shizz.
Young pitching ain’t quite there yet.
Mauer and Morneau
Used to be really awesome.
Now they are broken.
Yoenis is here.
Trade all of the pitchers!
Where are the fans?
Felix is the man,
The rest of the team sucks.
I miss Montero.
Toronto Blue Jays
AA the best,
Until he gets Jeff Mathis.
New unis do rule.
It might not feel that way, but the Yankees and Blue Jays just locked horns two weeks ago. The Yanks swept them handily as part of their six-game winning streak. Things have been a bit tumultuous lately, which leaves that memory further back in our minds.
What Have the Jays Done Lately?
Since dropping all three games to the Yanks two weeks ago, the Blue Jays have been on a mini tear. They went 6-3, including 4-2 against the Red Sox. For that Yankees fans have many thanks. But that’s about all we have. The last thing the Yankees need is to flub a series when the Nos. 2 and 3 teams in the AL East are locking horns.
Jays on Offense
The Jays are in essentially the same position offensively as they were the last time the two sides met. At that point, 12 games ago, they had a 103 wRC+, which ranked fifth in the AL. They currently have a 102 wRC+, which still ranks fifth in the AL — though they’re a bit further behind the Tigers this time, for obvious reasons. They’re also at the same place power-wise, with a .168 ISO. But the Rangers pulled further ahead of them in the past two weeks.
Yes, Jose Bautista still leads the Jays offense. That’s not changing now, or does it figure to change in the near future. Since the Yankees series, in which he went 3 for 11 with three singles, he’s gone 6 for 29 with a double and two homers. That puts him at 42 on the year, three ahead of Curtis Granderson. It does appear that Bautista will walk away with the crown for a second straight year.
Again, not much has changed since the last time the Jays played the Yanks, so it’s more of the same story. Yunel Escobar continues to hit and walk in the leadoff spot, while Brett Lawrie continues to impress. He does have a bruised knee, which he suffered during Wednesday’s game, but with a day off yesterday he could be back tonight. Edwin Encarnacion is the other guy in the lineup who can cause some damage, while Eric Thames has heated up of late.
(Also be on the lookout for Adam Loewen, whom you might remember pitching for the Orioles years ago. He’s reemerged as an outfielder for the Jays, and is 5 for his first 14 with a homer.)
One thing to consider about the Jays offense is that they’re very top heavy. Lawrie has just 149 PA, yet he has the second most runs above average on the team. That’s a counting stat, so he’s managed to outpace everyone but Bautista in what amounts to less than a quarter of a full season. That they continue to bat Adam Lind and his .295 OBP in the middle of the order further illustrates their less than impressive offensive achievements.
Blue Jays on the Mound
There will be no Ricky Romero this series, as he tossed eight innings against the Sox on Wednesday. Here’s how it’ll break down.
Friday: LHP Brett Cecil (vs. CC Sabathia). Remember the days when Cecil killed the Yankees? If not, don’t worry; it wasn’t a long stretch. In 2010 he had a few choice outings against the Yanks, holding them to four runs in 22 IP, covering three starts. In his four starts since then he’s tossed 22.2 innings and allowed 16 runs. When he faced them on September fourth he lasted six innings and threw just 84 pitches, but he allowed two homers and five runs total. The Yanks took that game easily. Last time out he was a degree better, going 7.2 and allowing just two runs, one earned, while striking out nine. But that was against the Orioles. The Yankees have a veritable gauntlet of a lineup against lefties, so tonight should not be so easy for young Cecil.
Update by Mike (3:10pm): The Blue Jays just announced that Cecil has been scratched from tonight’s start. Apparently he cut a finger while cleaning out a blender. Dustin McGowan will start instead.
Saturday: RHP Henderzon Alvarez (vs. Bartolo Colon). On Saturday Alvarez makes his eighth major league start, but his first against the Yankees. We’ve seen the Yankees falter against guys they see for the first time, but that’s just a narrative. It’s not representative of any particular deficiency. That is, it just happens sometimes. Alvarez does have some strengths, his greatest being his low walk rate. In 88 AA innings this year he walked just 1.74 per nine, and in his 43.2 MLB innings he’s walked 1.44 per nine. That, combined with a fair home run rate, has led to quality component ERAs (3.87 FIP, 3.43 xFIP) to go along with his 3.09 ERA. He doesn’t strike out man, though he has induced a good number of ground balls so far. That could play up well against the Yankees. In other words, if they do falter against him it won’t be solely because they haven’t seen him before.
Sunday: RHP Dustin McGowan (vs. Freddy Garcia). On Sunday McGowan made his first start since 2008. It was a long road back from a number of shoulder issues, but he’s finally completed the journey. Unfortunately, his return has not gone so well. The Jays threw him to the wolves in his first overall appearance, which came in relief against the Sox. He allowed three runs in four inning then. Against the Orioles he lasted just three innings while allowing four runs on five walks. The last time he faced the Yankees — June 5th, 2008 — he allowed five runs in 5.1 innings. Of course, only four of the starters from that game are still on the Yankees roster: Jeter, Posada, A-Rod, and Cano. The two players who homered off him, Jason Giambi and Wilson Betemit, are long gone.
Bullpen: The Jays do have a few weapons in their pen, but overall they’re lackluster this year, with a 3.88 ERA and 4.05 FIP. Those might not sound like bad numbers, but they both rank 10th in the American League. Casey Janssen has been the leader, with a 2.02 ERA and 2.39 FIP. Frank Francisco and his 1.32 HR/9 remain in the closer’s role.
The Yankees, specifically Joe Girardi and Russell Martin, made a little bit of a stink during the team’s four-game series in Toronto immediately after the All-Star break, suggesting that the Blue Jays were stealing signs. They weren’t the first team to make such accusations, and the ESPN duo of Amy Nelson and Peter Keating published an article today about said accusations. They’ve spoken to opposing players who’ve seen a person relay signs from the standings, and dug up some more possible evidence. It’s a pretty interesting read, so check it out.