One of the keys to the success of the 2019 Yankees has been their performance within the AL East. They’re 17-2 against Baltimore, 14-5 against Boston and 12-5 against the Rays. Interestingly enough, they’ve relatively underperformed against Toronto this year, “just” 9-6 against the rebuilding club this year. They’ll have a chance to improve that in their last series of the season against the Blue Jays this weekend.
With the division locked up, expect the Bombers to take great pains to rest their players. Not using Aroldis Chapman in a close game on Wednesday is a good signal that has already started. The Blue Jays don’t have much of anything to play for either, meaning the probable pitchers for this series are collectively a bunch of shrug emojis.
Friday: TBD vs. J.A. Happ
It’s probably best to treat this game as one of Happ’s last chances to prove he should be a part of the Yankee postseason plans. The team has talked openly about piggybacking and creative use of the bullpen, and Happ’s performance this year could lead to him being on the outside looking in. Happ’s having a dreadful season, of course, but he did put four straight solid starts together before having a very weird outing against Detroit last week.
On the Blue Jays’ side, they’ll likely look to see how many more home runs Randal Grichuk will hit against the Yankees this year:
He’s since added two homers to that total. Be careful, Happ.
Saturday: TBD vs. TBD
Ah, the joys of late September, relatively meaningless baseball. This should be Masahiro Tanaka’s spot in the rotation, and indeed he did see the Jays last week in Toronto. Without the division to worry about, the Yankees will have the freedom to rest their starters or test drive some of the more unconventional approaches that have been kicked around for the postseason.
Regarding that last point, I think this series would be a great time to test out the piggybacking the Yankees have talked about. Let Chad Green open, give Tanaka 16-18 batters, then go to the bullpen. Neither team will have much to play for, might as well have a dress rehearsal before rolling these kinds of strategies out against the Twins and Astros.
Sunday: TBD vs. TBD
You can basically reread the Saturday paragraphs, since a similar thing will happen here. Again, this should be James Paxton’s turn in the rotation, and if it’s true that the Yankees trust him the most of their current rotation, he may get a full tuneup start. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see him pitch an abbreviated start, or scratched entirely, just to reduce as much risk of his knee problem flaring up again as possible.
This series really reveals a lot about how you feel about September baseball. There will be a lot of exciting things on the field. Bo Bichette and Vlad Guerrero Jr. are fun to watch, Giancarlo Stanton is expected to play full games, and we’ll get to see our old friend Ryan Dull, claimed by the Jays this week. There will also be a million pitching changes, and if the Yankees really are prepared to concede home-field advantage, not much to play for. Still, fingers crossed for a Yankee sweep, going .500 on the year against Toronto would be deeply, deeply weird.