The Yankees continue their week against AL East foes with four against the Blue Jays in Toronto, looking to win their third series in a row. The Blue Jays boast an exciting young core and have been playing better baseball of late (they just took two of three from the Rays, so thanks guys!), but they still sit well below the .500 mark at 47-70.
This will be just the second time that the Yankees have traveled to the Rogers Centre so far this season, and they dropped two of three there back in June. The Yanks are 6-3 against Toronto this season overall and will look to pile on some more wins. More importantly, however, they aim to leave the series with their current healthy contributors still in one piece.
Here are the pitching matchups for the four-game set:
Game One: Domingo German vs. Thomas Pannone
The Yanks will have their best to start the series in German, who has continued to be effective since his return from the IL. Aside from his clunker against the Twins, German hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a start since coming back from a hip injury that sidelined him almost a month. He shut out Toronto through six innings back on July 12, and allowed just two runs through seven innings in his last start against the Red Sox. He enters this start with a 3.98 ERA and has allowed just one extra-base hit in 34 at-bats against the Blue Jays’ current roster.
The Blue Jays start the series with Pannone, who has logged time in both the rotation and the bullpen this year. The 25-year-old has faced the Yanks four times in his young career dating back to last season, and the Yanks have struggled to figure out the southpaw. Pannone has thrown four scoreless innings against the Yanks so far this season. The only Yankee to record an extra-base hit against Pannone is DJ LeMahieu, because of course he is. Pannone enters the start with a 5.98 ERA and a 4.76 FIP.
Game Two: J.A. Happ vs. Sean Reid-Foley
After turning in a quality start against the Diamondbacks on July 30, it looked like Happ was starting to return to some form of efficiency, especially after cruising through the early innings against the Red Sox on Sunday night. However, Happ quickly ran into trouble in that start, allowing seven hits and four earned runs in 5.2 innings, kicking up his ERA to 5.24 and his FIP to 5.43. Happ has allowed at least one dinger in four straight starts, but he’s been strong against the Blue Jays this season. In two starts against his former team, Happ has allowed just three runs in 12.1 innings. He has held the current Toronto lineup to a microscopic OPS of .437 in his career over the span of 69 at-bats.
Foley made seven starts in 2018 and experienced highs and lows against the Yanks, shutting them out for five innings on 10 strikeouts after being tagged for eight runs and three home runs in 4.1 innings earlier in the season. The 23-year-old righty faced the Bombers in a relief role earlier this year, throwing two shutout innings before shifting to the starting rotation. He carries a 4.83 FIP into this start, where Didi Gregorius will look to make an impact. The shortstop is 2-for-6 with a home run in his brief history with Reid-Foley. Gregorius and the Yankees should be ready to work the count, as they often do, against Reid-Foley, who is holding a walk rate of 14 percent for the second season in a row.
Game Three: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Jacob Waguespack
The Yankees desperately need Tanaka to return to his career norm, but he has been on a steady decline since he was rocked by Boston on June 29. Including that start, his ERA since is 10.23, which is of course inflated by the 12 runs he surrendered to those same Red Sox at Fenway. It appeared he was starting to turn it around against the Diamondbacks, getting more bite on his splitter and allowing two runs through four innings, but he was then knocked around by the lowly Orioles, allowing 10 hits and five runs over 5.1 innings. His 4.55 FIP is currently a career-worst, and while he’s had success against the Blue Jays in his career, he’ll have to be careful with Randal Grichuk, who is 4-for-12 with three dingers in his career against Tanaka.
The Yankee offense will get its first look at the righty Waquespack in game three. The 25-year-old rookie has made seven starts this season, and his most recent outing may have been his best, allowing just four hits in six shutout innings against the Rays. He carries a 4.19 FIP, allows a rate of exactly one home run per nine innings, throws his fastball almost half the time (47.5 percent) and averages 92.4 mph on that heater. His secondary pitch is his cutter, which he throws 21.1 percent of the time at just under 90 mph.
Game Four: TBD vs. Trent Thornton
The Yankees will likely go with an opener in the series finale while CC Sabathia continues to work his way back from his barking knee, and based on previous outcomes, the Yanks should like their chances. The opener has been very kind to the Yankees this season, and it was again last time out against the Orioles, though each pitcher used was likely in a bit too long. Jonathan Holder and Stephen Tarpley each went at least two innings and ran into trouble at the end of their outings, but the Yankees still grabbed the win. Look for Holder or Chad Green to start the game on the mound.
Yet another 25-year-old rookie takes the mound for Toronto in the series finale, as the righty Thornton will look to tame the mighty Bombers, highlighted by the prolific bats of Mike Tauchman, Mike Ford and Breyvic Valera. That still sounds so weirdly awesome to say! Anyway, unlike Waguespack, the Yanks have faced Thornton before, and have fared well. In two starts against Thornton this season, the Yanks have scored nine runs on 12 hits in 8.1 innings, including a trio of dongs. DJ LeMahieu is 3-for-5 with a home run against Thornton, and Sanchez is 2-for-5 with a homer. Looks like he picked a good time to come back from the IL! After all, it is August...