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New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays: Michael King vs. T.J. Zeuch

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The Yankees go for their first sweep in three and a half weeks.

New York Yankees v Minnesota Twins Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

The last two nights have encouraged me perhaps more than any other span this season. It hasn’t been the prettiest baseball by any means, but the team has shown an urgency and desire we haven’t seen all season. They’ve had to fight to win the first two games, and it will be no different as they go for the sweep tonight.

Michael King continues his extended stretch in the starting rotation with Corey Kluber injured and Deivi García struggling mightily in Triple-A. King excelled in long relief to start the season, but things have been a lot rockier since he joined the rotation. He owns a 2.29 ERA in seven relief appearances but has pitched to a 6.35 ERA in three starts.

Interestingly, King’s FIP is nearly identical for both roles, suggesting that his issues stem from allowing too many baserunners. Indeed, his groundball rate has plummeted nearly 20 percentage points since he became a starter, meaning he is no longer generating the type of contact conducive to getting bulk outs. On the season, King is 0-3 with a 3.77 ERA, 4.16 FIP, and 28 strikeouts in 31 innings

T.J. Zeuch gets the call-up for a spot start with Steven Matz on the COVID-19 IL. He appeared in four games for the Blue Jays in April, but he was sidelined with a shoulder injury and subsequently optioned to Triple-A. He pitched to a 4.37 ERA in six starts for the Bisons, gave up a ton of hits, and won’t strike out many guys.

Zeuch has pitched against the Yankees twice this season, with wildly divergent results. In the season opener series, he started the final game and threw four shutout innings in the Blue Jays’ 3-1 victory. Two weeks later, he made another four inning start against the Bomber, this time giving up four runs including a pair of homers by Aaron Judge. In four MLB appearances this year (two starts), Zeuch is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA, 9.33 FIP, and six strikeouts in 12 innings.

Despite scratching out wins in the last two games, the Yankees’ offense is still far from finding its footing. Gary Sánchez starts following his game-winning, pinch-hit two-run home run in the seventh inning last night. Rougned Odor sits after going 0-4 with three strikeouts, with Tyler Wade getting the nod at second.

The Blue Jays shake up their lineup a bit. Teoscar Hernandez was placed on paternity leave so Lourdes Gurriel Jr. plays in the field, Vlad Guerrero Jr. moves to DH, and Rowdy Tellez plays first. Santiago Espinal replaces Joe Panik at third. Gerrit Cole may have limited this dangerous lineup to two runs through eight last night, but suffice to say King is no Cole and faces a tough task holding these bats at bay.

How to watch

Location: Sahlen Field, Buffalo, NY

First pitch: 7:07 p.m. ET

TV broadcast: YES, SNET-1

Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280

Online stream: MLB.tv

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