After a 13-game win streak, you would’ve hoped that the Yankees would get some stress-free games in series against the Angels and Orioles, but that did not come to pass. The worst of it came on Sunday, as the Yankees blew a three-run lead and dropped two of three to last-place Baltimore.
Well, the stress-filled games will keep on coming as now the Blue Jays are arriving in the Bronx.
Thanks to a sweep of the Athletics, Toronto will come into this game four back of the Red Sox for the second Wild Card and 4.5 back of the Yankees for the first. While the Yankees cannot be passed by the Jays this week, they can make things even tighter than they already are if the worst-case scenario comes to pass. On the other hand, if the best-case scenario materializes, they can give themselves some breathing room. Either way, there’s probably going to be some nervy moments over the next couple days.
Before things get going, here’s a look at the pitching matchups we’ll see.
Monday: Jameson Taillon vs. Hyun Jin Ryu (1:05 pm ET)
It’s possible that the innings total coming off missing most of two years post-Tommy John surgery is starting to catch up with Taillon. The longest outing he’s had in his last four is 5.1 innings, and he’s coming off allowing six runs in 4.2 innings to the Angels. Manager Aaron Boone will cross his fingers and hope for length from Taillon to give the depleted bullpen a breather, but the right-hander might not be up for the task.
Ryu hasn’t been quite as good as his Cy Young runner-up finish last year, but he’s still been solid — especially against the Yankees. In three outings against them this year, he’s allowed five earned runs in 18 total innings. However, the most recent of those meetings was June 15th, and since then, his ERA has jumped half a run. Since the start of August, he’s given up 23 runs in 33.1 innings, including two different starts of seven earned runs.
Tuesday: Gerrit Cole vs. Steven Matz (7:05 pm ET)
It seems like Gerrit Cole is a very good pitcher. Since coming off the COVID-IL, opponents have gotten just two runs off him in four starts across 24.2 innings. Even though one of those runs came in it, his last game might’ve been his best in this recent run. Cole struck out 15 Angels without walking anyone in a win last Wednesday.
Since the start of August, Matz has been very good, putting up a 1.65 ERA in his last six starts. Way prior to this good run beginning, he also shut down the Yankees the only time they’ve met this year. Back on May 25th, he struck out 10 in 6.2 innings, allowing only one run in a Blue Jays’ win.
Wednesday: Luis Gil vs. Alek Manoah (7:05 pm ET)
With the Yankees in the middle of a 20 games in 20 days stretch, they haven’t quite announced what they’re going to do with this game. They’ve said that they expect to bring up Luis Gil at some time during this run, and Boone hinted at the Toronto series, so it’s possible that it happens on this day. If not, the normal rotation order would have Néstor Cortes Jr. starting this one. Considering the strain on the bullpen lately, it seems unlikely that they would try some sort of bullpen game, but who knows. (Update: Gil has been confirmed as the likely Wednesday starter. It will be his first MLB appearance since August 17th against the Red Sox, and he’ll aim to preserve his pristine 0.00 ERA in 15.2 innings.)
Manoah was notably quite good against the Yankees in his MLB debut back in May. He went six innings, allowing just two hits. That was the only time he’s faced them so far. His season since has been up and down, but it’s generally averaged out to a pretty good rookie campaign.
Thursday: TBD vs. José Berríos (7:05 pm ET)
Like Wednesday, the Yankees hadn’t announced a starter for Thursday as of Sunday night. Depending on what they do the day before, it could be Cortes, or perhaps Jordan Montgomery, who would be the starter if they stuck with the normal five-man schedule. Then again, it could be someone else entirely. Who knows!
Berríos was one of the pitching gems of the trade deadline, coming to Toronto from the Twins in a splashy deal that sent two top prospects to Minnesota in Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson. Berríos’ tenure as a Jay has been erratic at times, but he’s coming off a couple positive notes, allowing three runs over 13.2 innings in his last two outings.