The Yankees close out their 18 games with the Blue Jays with three up in the Rogers Centre this weekend, a place they’ve gone 12-12 at since the beginning of 2009 and haven’t recorded a series victory in a three-game set since May 12-14, 2009. However, a year after having their brains bashed in repeatedly by the Toronto Extra-Base Hits, the Yankees have returned the favor, having won 10 of the 15 games the two teams have played this season and ensuring the Jays won’t be able to run up a winning record against the Yankees for a second straight year.
Having just previewed the Jays two weeks ago, you already know the deal — Jose Bautista still leads the world in wOBA and wRC+ and the team boasts a top-five offense, but the pitching just hasn’t been all that great. It looks like the Yankees will see rookie Henderson Alvarez this weekend, and he’s actually been the team’s best starter over the past month, so that could pose some potential problems.
Probable Pitching Match-Ups
In tonight’s opener (7:07pm), CC Sabathia takes on Brett Cecil. The Yankees seem to have gotten over their Cecil issue, having beaten him twice this season after losing to the lefty four times last year. Sabathia’s been a complete beast against the Blue Jays during his Yankee career, with a 2.21 ERA across 40 2/3 innings against Toronto during the last three seasons.
The Saturday afternoon (1:07pm) game features Bartolo Colon versus the aforementioned Alvarez. Per my series preview from last time, Alvarez is a hard-throwing (93.6mph avg. four-seamer) righty who also features a two-seamer, a cutter that apparently gets up to the mid-90s per Joe Lefkowitz (94.4mph), a mid-80s change and a low-80s slider. However, he appears to predominantly be a fastball-changeup guy, at least based on the small sample of starts we have at our disposal. Bart was good enough in his last go-round against the Jays, although they’ve hit him hard this year (6.86 ERA), and it’d be great to see Colon stifle the annoying Blue Jay bats.
And the Sunday afternoon finale has Freddy Garcia against the recently reactivated Dustin McGowan(!). As you may recall, McGowan not too long ago appeared to be on his way to becoming a stalwart in the Toronto rotation, posting a breakout 3.9 fWAR season in 2007 and following it up with 2.3 fWAR in 2008 before his season ended that July. McGowan has been on the shelf ever since as the result of multiple surgeries to his shoulder and knee over the last three years, and finally returned to the Bigs on September 6 in relief. He made his first start in more than three years on September 11, going only three innings and giving up four runs.
McGowan throws hard — a 94mph average fastball that he compliments with a high-80s slider to righties and mid-80s changeup to lefties. I seem to recall McGowan as being tough on the Yankees, although the numbers don’t back that up at all, as he has a career 5.61 ERA in 43.1 innings against the Bombers. With McGowan still on the mend and with the Jays presumably being mindful of not working him too hard, this could be a short outing for the righty.
Like Bart, Freddy’s also had some trouble with the Jays — though he did turn in a quality start against Toronto in May — with an ERA of 6.06 in 16.1 innings against the birds this season. The only team he’s fared worse against among teams he’s seen multiple times is the Red Sox.
Even though they are better than the Jays, the Yankees’ string of good fortune against this talented Toronto team seems due to run out; I unfortunately would not be surprised to see the Bombers drop two of three this weekend, especially playing up at the godforsaken Rogers Centre.