It’s been a fun week to be a Yankees fan — from the team’s current seven-game winning streak to yesterday’s bombshell revelation that the Yankees clubhouse has a pet turtle, the good times are rolling at just the right time. The Yankees look to keep those positive feelings alive and potentially reduce their Magic Number to 1 tonight as they take on the division rival Toronto Blue Jays.
Cy Young candidate Gerrit Cole (16-8, 3.08 ERA, 2.82 FIP) will get the start tonight, making his 30th (and hopefully final) regular season start of the 2021 season. Although a couple of less-than-stellar starts down the stretch — most significantly a seven-run clunker against Cleveland on September 19th — likely mean that he will end up as the runner-up for the league’s most prestigious pitching award rather than the winner, the Yankees ace has been absolutely electric this year, allowing only slightly more than one baserunner per inning and leading the league in K/BB ratio (5.78).
In fact, Cole’s season has a chance to be described as nothing short of historic, as he currently sits just 11 strikeouts away from the franchise single-season strikeout record, currently held by Ron Guidry, who struck out 248 batters in his legendary 1978 season. While this feat will be difficult to achieve against the potent Blue Jays lineup, it’s by no means impossible — Cole has fanned at least 11 hitters in one-quarter of his starts this season.
Opposite him will be Blue Jays midseason acquisition José Berríos (12-9, 3.48 ERA, 3.55 FIP between Minnesota and Toronto). Since lasting only three innings against the Chicago White Sox on August 24th, Berríos has been a veritable ace for the Jays, posting a 2.70 ERA and limiting opposing batters to a .190/.237/.361 in 40 innings across 6 starts. He last faced the Yankees on September 9th, twirling 6.2 innings of two-run ball, striking out eight and walking only two; the only damage the Bombers were able to get off him came as the result of a two-run home run by Anthony Rizzo in the sixth. Of course, that was a Yankees lineup embroiled in the midst of a seven-game losing streak (part of a 2-11 stretch), and more importantly, they had not yet brought Bronxie into the Yankees family.
The Yankees will be trotting out a lineup that includes Aaron Judge in the three spot and Giancarlo Stanton cleaning up; the way that these two have been hitting of late, that’s really all you need to know. The other hitters have been no slouches of late either of late, however, and as such, there’s really not much to complain about. You could make the case that Luke Voit should be the designated hitter and Brett Gardner on the bench, but honestly, with the way the lineup has been hitting, I’m not going to complain too deeply. As always, Kyle Higashioka gets the start behind the plate with Cole on the mound.
While not lineup related, the Yankees made a major move prior to the game, optioning Andrew Heaney to the Florida complex and activating Jonathan Loáisiga from the injured list. Hopefully, the team puts up enough runs that the Yankees can ease their relief ace back into action before the playoffs begin.
Let’s Go Yankees!
How to watch
Location: Rogers Centre - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
First pitch: 7:07 pm ET
TV broadcast: WPIX, SNET, ESPN (out-of-market only)
Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280
Online stream: MLB.TV
Cole Front Up North. #SquadUp pic.twitter.com/sDZqeNMnVW— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 29, 2021
We're still in this!— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 29, 2021
Join us tonight: https://t.co/VB2V2kYMEh pic.twitter.com/jl51sxKvtG