Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays vs New York Yankees (May 30 – Jun 1)

With hopes of climbing into the American League East Divisional race the Blue Jays welcome the surging New York Yankees for a three game set.

The New York Yankees come into Toronto fresh off a 2-1 series win in Tampa Bay, while the Blue Jays took 2 of 3 from the division leading Boston Red Sox. Both teams are 7-3 in their last ten games and are looking to climb back into the divisional race. With June quickly upon us, it seems both teams are starting to round into form.

Pitching staffs:

NYY – (Starters) 4.46 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 1.24 HR/9, 8.1 K/9, .264/.314/.438

TOR – (Starters) 3.70 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 0.91 HR/9, 6.9 K/9, .233/.299/.378

NYY – (Relievers) 3.45 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 1.2 HR/9, 10.8 K/9, .215/.280/.383

TOR – (Relievers) 3.78 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 1.3 HR/9, 8.4 K/9, .260/.324/.419

Offenses:

New York – R/G 3.9 – .234/.302/.377 – 122 XBH – 7.1 K/G

Toronto – R/G 4.2 – .238/.317/.408 – 160 XBH – 8.63 K/G

History: Being American League East opponents Toronto (26-26) and New York (24-25) have a long history. The two teams have played each other 581 times in total with the Yankees holding a decided advantage of 322 victories to 259 losses. Despite New York’s dominance, 2013 14-5, 2014 11-8, Toronto played them tough at the Rogers Centre. Toronto’s run to the division title in 2015 saw them take the season series 13-6, with a 8-2 record in Yankee Stadium. The Blue Jays currently hold a 4-2 record in 2016, by winning both series’ 2-1 at home and on the road.

Game 1

First Pitch – 7:07 EST

M. Estrada RHP (2016: 2-2, 2.76 ERA) vs. I. Nova RHP (2016: 3-2, 3.65 ERA) 

Toronto will send Marco Estrada to the hill for the opening game of the series on Monday night. Estrada has pitched excellent so far this season (2-2, 2.76 ERA, 1.057 WHIP, 8.0 K/9) which includes a win over the Yankees last week in New York when he went 7.0 IP, 4H, 3ER, 2BB, 2K to get his second W on the season.

Over his career the native Mexican holds a record of (2-2, 4.19 ERA, 1.293 WHIP, 4.9 K/9) against the Yankees. He is also (7-6, 2.67 ERA, 0.966 WHIP, 6.3 K/9) all-time at the Rogers Centre.

Estrada Yankees 2

New York will counter with improving starter Ivan Nova. Nova has pitched well since joining the rotation in May, and currently holds a (3-2, 3.65 ERA, 1.135 WHIP, 5.6 K/9) on the season, which includes a loss to the Blue Jays last week when he put up a 6.2 IP, 7H, 4R, 2BB, 8K performance.

The native Dominican hold a career record of (5-6, 5.63 ERA, 1.461 WHIP, 6.9 K/9) against Toronto, with a (2-3, 5.50 ERA, 1.391 WHIP, 7.6 K/9) at the Rogers Centre.

Nova Jays 2

Player(s) to Watch:

Blue Jays: With this being the second time in as many starts facing the Yankees for Estrada, it will be important to keep an eye on the starter. Hard to say if any familiarity will come into play, but it could play a factor.

Yankees: Starlin Castro holds a career slash of 414/452/621 over 29 AB against Estrada. Despite him swinging the bat poorly over the last week, he has hit two home runs, including one off Happ last week. He is a hitter than could be dangerous if not taken seriously in that lineup.

Game 2

First Pitch – 7:07 EST

J. Happ LHP (2016: 6-2, 3.60 ERA) vs. C. Sabathia LHP (2016: 3-3, 2.83 ERA) 

The staff lefty J.A. Happ will take the ball to start the second game of the series against the Yankees. Happ is off to perhaps his best start of his career to this point with a (6-2, 3.20 ERA, 1.175 WHIP, 5.8 K/9) record in 2016. This also included his excellent 7 IP, 3H, ER, 3BB, 5K performance in earning a win over New York last week.

Happ owns a record of (5-2. 4.15 ERA, 1.292 WHIP, 7.3 K/9) against the Yankees over his career. He is also excellent at home with a (15-12, 3.60 ERA, 1.196 WHIP, 7.8 K/9) at the Rogers Centre.

Happ Yankees 2

Toronto will once again see CC Sabathia, the second time in two weeks. Sabathia has pitched well since his return from the disabled list this season to post a (3-3, 2.83 ERA, 1.234 WHIP, 7.8 K/9) record. This also includes his start against the Blue Jays in NY last week where he was sharp while putting up 7 IP, 2H, 2R, oER, 1BB, 7K in a 3-1 loss.

The California native has done well over his career (15-7, 3.21 ERA, 1.075 WHIP, 8.4 K/9) against Toronto, which includes a (7-2, 3.21 ERA, 1.144 WHIP, 8.4 K/9) during that time in the Rogers Centre.

Sabathia Jays 2

Player(s) to Watch:

Blue Jays: Since none of the current lineup have a decent record against Sabathia, I am going to go out on a limp and say the Josh Donaldson comes up big in this game. Big gamble, I know. His 238/273/286 career slash says he doesn’t see the ball well, but I am betting that changes on Tuesday night.

Yankees: Since Alex Rodriguez has yet to produce a batting average against Happ, it should be safe to assume Carlos Beltran will probably be in the lineup at DH. Beltran has hit Happ well over the years with a 300/333/633 slash, which includes three home runs and three doubles.

Game 3

First Pitch – 7:07 EST

A. Sanchez RHP (2016: 4-1, 3.29 ERA) vs. M. Tanaka RHP (2016: 3-0, 2.89 ERA) 

The final game of the series will feature Aaron Sanchez taking to the hill for the Blue Jays. Sanchez has been very good this season for Toronto while posting a (4-1, 3.29 ERA, 1.203 WHIP, 7.9 K/9), this also includes a previous start against the Yankees in April where he put up a solid line of 6.0 IP, 3H, ER, 3BB, 5K performance.

The California native owns a career record of (1-2, 2.76 ERA, 1.102 WHIP, 6.1 K/9) against New York, but a majority of that was in relief, with only start coming in April of this season. He has also been solid at home, posting a (4-5, 3.01 ERA, 1.108 WHIP, 6.5 K/9) record at the Rogers Centre.

Sanchez Yankees 2

The Blue Jays will be in tough in the series finale against Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka, as expected, is pitching well this season and currently holds a (3-0, 2.89 ERA, 0.964 WHIP, 7.4 K/9). This record also includes a no-decision start in April where he put up 5.0 IP, 3H, 2ER, 4BB, 6K in Toronto.

The Japanese star has been excellent against Toronto over his short career, as his (5-2, 2.37 ERA, 0.953 WHIP, 9.9 K/9) will attest. This record also includes a (2-0, 2.14 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 9.4 K/9) record at the Rogers Centre.

Tanaka Jays 2

Player(s) to Watch:

Blue Jays: Toronto’s DH, Edwin Encarnacion has hit Tanaka well over his career with a 438/500/750 slash, which includes a home run and two doubles. Double E, has been struggling somewhat his season, but has shown signs of slowly crawling out of it. Keep an eye on him this game.

Yankees: New York’s starting pitcher will be the one to watch this game. He tends to nibble a lot against the Toronto, while averaging just a shade over 6 IP/GS. If the Blue Jays can make him work early, they should be able to get him out of the game early, but doing so before the game is in the hands of the big three in the bullpen will be key.

 

Series Outlook:

With Toronto’s lineup seemingly coming out of their season long funk, and New York’s still having its own trouble scoring, it is very possible for the Blue Jays to take at least two of three games in this series. Like the earlier series, it will be important that Toronto grab early leads thus negating the Yankees’ stellar back-end of the bullpen. Of course, this will rely on the starting pitching and the Jays’ struggling bullpen to do their part. These teams always play each other tough, so expect no different in this series.

 

*All Pitcher vs Batter Stats provided by ESPN (click on image to see original)
**Featured Image Credit: C Stem- UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0

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Wade is a long time baseball fan who has been involved with the game for over 30 years. Including as a former college player, amateur pitching coach, and blogger.

W Black

Wade is a long time baseball fan who has been involved with the game for over 30 years. Including as a former college player, amateur pitching coach, and blogger.