Over the weekend, the Yankees played maybe the most important series of the season, and it went quite well. They swept the series against the Red Sox thanks to two come from behind wins and two massive home runs from Giancarlo Stanton. Thanks to all that, the Yankees now not only have a lead for a Wild Card spot, but are a game up for the first Wild Card.
Next up is another series that you could easily describe as the most important of the season.
For the first time this year, the Yankees are headed north of the border to play the Blue Jays in Toronto. The Yankees come into this set two up on Toronto and can put one foot in the playoff door with a series win, and could clinch a spot with a sweep and some other results going in their favor. It’s going to be a tough test, though. Just a couple weeks ago, the Yankees were swept at the hands of the Blue Jays, fully dragging them back into the playoff race after the cushion the Yankees’ 13-game win streak created evaporated. The other side of a series win is a series loss that would create an insanely tight race and a very nervy final weekend.
Before things get going tonight, let’s take a look at the pitching matchups we’ll see over the next couple days.
Tuesday: Jameson Taillon vs. Hyun Jin Ryu (7:07 pm ET)
The series opener will also mark the return of Taillon, who was activated from the injured list on Monday. Taillon made his last appearance on September 6th, hitting the IL a couple days after that with a partially torn tendon in his right ankle. He made a rehab start in Triple-A back on the 22nd, allowing two runs on four hits in three innings. You would have to imagine that he wouldn’t have the longest leash considering his time off and the fact that this is a massive game for the Yankees.
Ryu hasn’t been remotely as good as his past couple seasons this year, but you wouldn’t know that if you only watched his games against the Yankees. In his four previous starts against them this year, he’s allowed six runs in 24 innings. However, the most recent of those is pretty much the lone shining light in his last month and change. Even including his seven shutout innings in the Bronx on September 6th, his ERA is over 10 since August 26th.
Wednesday: Gerrit Cole vs. José Berríos (7:07 pm ET)
He won’t be going head-to-head against his likely competition for the AL Cy Young, but Cole will get a chance to put down a marker this week. He bounced back from a bad outing against Cleveland with a good, not great, but important outing against the Red Sox.
Berríos has been very solid since going to Toronto at the trade deadline, and that includes 6.2 innings of two-run ball against the Yankees on September 9th. That game makes up part of a stretch since August 29th, during which he has a 2.70 ERA and has struck out 46 batters in 40 innings.
Thursday: Corey Kluber vs. Robbie Ray (7:07 pm ET)
After putting up his best start since returning on the 17th, Kluber was less than stellar against the Texas team he no-hit in May when he faced them on the 22nd. Thanks to Taillon’s return and a general reshuffling as the Yankees head into the final week and potentially the playoffs, he’s going have had basically a week of rest going into this one.
Cole’s opposite in the Cy Young race, Ray, will be going for Toronto in the series finale. As much as the teams play each other, Ray has only faced the Yankees twice this season, and neither start was great. The Yankees got him for a combined six earned runs in 9.2 innings with only eight strikeouts. The second of those came on May 27th, and most of Ray’s Cy case has been made in the months following. Since that second game against the Yankees in 22 starts, Ray has a 2.25 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and is striking out over 12 hitters per nine innings.