Preseason, it was thought it would have taken a few crazy things for this week’s upcoming Yankees-Blue Jays series to be critically important. Either the Yankees would have had to have underperformed this season, or the Jays would have to be significantly better than expected. Unfortunately, both things are now true, which makes this early-week matchup with the Jays one of the most crucial the Yankees have had yet.
Both teams are locked in a fight for second place in the division, and still have seven more games to go against each other after this series ends. The Jays loaded up at the deadline, and the Yankees will probably see two of the three pitchers that Toronto added in this series. Get ready to see a lot of the Blue Jays down the stretch, in a much different light than before.
Monday: Jordan Montgomery vs. TBD
It’s been an up-and-down season for Montgomery so far, and he’ll look to establish some consistency vs. the Blue Jays. His last start was the shortest of his MLB career, lasting just two thirds of an inning against Tampa Bay and allowing four runs. He is 2-0 in his career vs. Toronto, but this is a better Blue Jays team than he has ever faced before. Montgomery will have to rely on his vast pitch mix to keep the Toronto hitters off-balance.
The Blue Jays haven’t named their probable pitchers for the series, but it will probably be Hyun-Jin Ryu, their top starter, going on Monday. Ryu was excellent the last few years for the Dodgers, and parlayed that into a four-year, $80 million deal with Toronto. He has been superb for them so far, allowing just three earned runs the whole month of July and pitching to a 2.51 ERA and 1.09 WHIP overall. He struck out a season-high eight batters in his last time out, but is 0-2 with an 8.71 ERA vs. the Yankees lifetime.
Tuesday: J.A. Happ vs. TBD
A Toronto Blue Jay for two stints and six total seasons, Happ will face his old team again, but in a new home – this series is being played at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York. Happ has not been satisfied with his performance this year, but he’s been better his last few times out – he’s pitched to a 2.60 ERA and a 12-3 K-BB rate over his last three outings.
A shrewd trade deadline add, Taijuan Walker will likely start on Tuesday vs. the Bombers. Walker has made two starts with Toronto since the trade, and has allowed just two total runs in those starts. He was a once-promising pitcher who has always been beset by injuries, but he’s fully healthy now and the Jays’ number two starter. He’s 0-2 with a 3.95 ERA against the Yankees over his career.
Wednesday: Deivi Garcia vs. TBD
With James Paxton’s long-term status still uncertain, Deivi Garcia has become the Yankees’ fifth starter. He wasn’t as good vs. Baltimore as he was in his excellent debut against the Mets, but his strikeout stuff still showed true. After two tune-ups, his third big league start will be his first big test in a division race.
It’s probable that Ross Stripling, another trade deadline add, will be on the bump on Wednesday night for the Blue Jays. Stripling was a consistent swingman for the Dodgers for parts of five seasons, but now has a chance to start regularly in Toronto (or, Buffalo). He has really struggled with the home-run ball this season, and while he’s never been an elite pitcher, he’s better than his current 5.68 ERA and 1.50 WHIP say. Maybe the Yankees can catch a break against Stripling while he’s in a rough patch.