The Blue Jays hope to use scheduled off days before divisional series against New York and Tampa Bay to rest and reset.
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TORONTO BLUE JAYS at NEW YORK YANKEES (2 game series)
- Wednesday afternoon game is scheduled to be a MLBN out-of-market broadcast
You could not blame casual Blue Jays fans for thinking that the only team Toronto has played this year has been the Yankees. The brief 2-game set is the third series in the first 30 games and the 2nd visit to the Bronx. The Yankees have taken 4 of the previous 7 contests and have ridden a recent 8-2 streak to a 3/5 game lead in the AL East.
Yusei Kikuchi has been inconsistent, but has pitched well in both 2022 starts against the Yankees. Kikuchi won his last start against New York 2-1 and will need to bring it in his matchup against Luis Severino. Severino shut out the Jays in his lone outing back in April and few Blue Jays have had much success against him in the past (Bo Bichette is 1-3 facing Severino).
Jameson Taillon appears to be healthy and beat the Blue Jays 3-0 during the last series. Seeing the Jays lineup is aggressive early in the counts, he will need to rely more on breaking stuff to keep Bichette (5 for 13 2 RBI) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (4 for 12, 1 HR) from hunting fastballs on first pitch. It will be interesting to see if the 12:35 ET start will move Charlie Montoyo to use reserves like Raimel Tapia (.333) and Bradley Zimmer (.286) to buy an extra breather for the core lineup pieces.
Many will argue that an “easier” schedule has enabled the Yankees to climb to the top of the standings. In fairness, this New York Yankee teams has capitalized on opportunities on the mound and at the plate. The Yankees have posted the highest Wins Above Average (Batting and Fielding) in the American League (5.3). Their starting rotation (1.0) and league leading bullpen (1.5) have kept the Yankees in games. The Yankees lineup has gelled better than expected and are posting a 3.5 Wins Above Average. Their Run Differential (+48) dwarfs the Blue Jays (-10). While this does not prove the Yankees are a better team than Toronto over a full 162 game slate. But to date the Yankees should earn Jays fan respect.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS AT TAMPA BAY RAYS (3 game series)
Friday May 13 7:10 pm ET SNET-1: Kevin Gausman (3-1 2.13) vs. TBD (Opener)
Saturday May 14 6:10 pm ET SNET-1: TBD (Ryu) vs. Drew Rasmussen (3-1 2.89)
Sunday May 15 1:40 pm ET SNET-1*: Alek Manoah (4-0 1.75) vs. TBD (Yarbrough)
- Sunday afternoon game is scheduled to be a MLBN out-of-market broadcast
The Blue Jays will fly out of New York after Wednesday afternoon’s game and enjoy a day off in the Tampa Bay area before taking on the Rays for first time this season. This could provide not only a welcome respite but also a chance for Charlie Montoyo and Pete Walker to see Hyun-jin Ryu throw in person. Given the proximity to their Dunedin Complex, the coaching staff and front office should be able to monitor injury rehabilitation work by Ryu Nate Person and Danny Jansen in real time.
It is always a challenge to project probable starters for the Rays, given their penchant for using openers and computer projections to get their staff regular work and the best match-ups. Rays manager Kevin Cash may very well make Friday night a bullpen game, given the Rays lineup will need to figure out how to hit Kevin Gausman’s splitter. The Rays never punt, but keeping the Jays lineup off balance by rotating in relievers such as J.P. Feyereisen, Andrew Kitteridge and Matt Wisler.
The left-handed elephant in the clubhouse on Saturday will be Ryu. If Ryu’s rehabilitation continues to progress well, giving the veteran lefty the ball to start versus Drew Rasmussen at Tropicana Field Saturday night. Even if Ryu starts the game, it is doubtful he will pitch more than a few innings and a rested bullpen will be asked to piggyback. Ross Stripling would be the logical guy to takeover from Ryu, seeing he has manned the 3rd spot in the rotation for the past few weeks.
As of Monday, Alek Manoah is Toronto’s bWAR leader in 2022. The sophomore starter is building a reputation for battling through all situations and delivering not only quality starts but confidence in his role as stopper. If Yarbrough is given the start, his early season struggles will provide the Jays with an opportunity to exploit a tired bullpen should they chase Rasmussen early Saturday night.
Is starting this rivalry series on Friday the 13th an omen? The Rays did win the 2021 season series 11-8 versus Toronto. Timing can be everything and Tampa Bay has gone 7-3 over the last 10 contests. Those who value Pythagorean Wins will also note the Rays are outperforming their expected results by 2 full games (18-11 vs 16-13 pythWL 16-13). Manny Margot has been en fuego of the past 7 days ( .500 3 HR 12 RBI) and Wander Franco (.300) appears to be warming up with the weather.
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