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New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays: Gerrit Cole vs. José Berríos

Both staff aces look to rebound from shaky Opening Day outings. Who will gain the series lead?

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

After trading shutout victories over the first two games of the series behind strong efforts from Alek Manoah, Nestor Cortes, and their respective bullpens, the Yankees and Blue Jays will send their staff aces out to the mound on Wednesday night. Normally, one might expect a pitchers’ duel, but both starters reminded folks during their last time out that they’re not always dominant.

Gerrit Cole’s Opening Day outing against the Red Sox was more inconsistent than bad, though he was undoubtedly disappointed in it. He put the Yankees in an immediate 3-0 hole by giving up a two-run homer to Rafael Devers on his sixth pitch and an RBI double to Xander Bogaerts on offering No. 14. Was he rattled by Billy Crystal’s first pitch timing? Maybe, but that’s not the excuse that any Yankees fan wants to hear.

To Cole’s credit, he settled down after the Bogaerts double and only faced one batter over the minimum for the rest of his four-inning outing. The right-hander was limited to 68 pitches on Opening Day and should have a slightly longer leash this time out, assuming his outing fares better.

Cole might have been rocky on Opening Day, but José Berríos wishes that he could’ve last that long. Fresh off signing a seven-year, $131 million extension with Toronto after coming over from the Twins at the 2021 trade deadline, he was absolutely throttled by the Rangers and didn’t even make it out of the first inning. Brad Miller hit a leadoff homer, and after two walks, two line-drive singles, a wild pitch, and a hit by pitch, Berríos was hooked after recording a single out on 34 pitches. This was probably an anomaly of an outing though, so the Yankees should be on their guard against the 27-year-old right-hander.

The Yankees’ rotational player carousel has Giancarlo Stanton sitting for the first time in 2022 and Josh Donaldson at DH in his stead, sliding down to the three-hole with Anthony Rizzo leading off. DJ LeMahieu will play third while Gleyber Torres mans second and the outfield left-to-right goes Joey Gallo/Aaron Hicks/Aaron Judge. I always prefer to recap games that feature Stanton, but this was inevitable with the Yankees playing 10 games in 10 days to start the season after an abbreviated spring.

Meanwhile, Cole will have his hands full with an absurdly loaded Blue Jays lineup. Just going by 2021 OPS+ here...

  1. George Springer, 141 OPS+
  2. Bo Bichette, 121 OPS+
  3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 167 OPS+
  4. Teoscar Hernández, 131 OPS+
  5. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., 109 OPS+
  6. Alejandro Kirk, 105 OPS+
  7. Matt Chapman, 100 OPS+
  8. Raimel Tapia, 81 OPS+ (the lone weak point)
  9. Santiago Espinal, 113 OPS+

If anyone in the American League can be reasonably confident in limiting the damage that this group can cause, then it’s Cole, so at least there’s that.

Go Yankees, go baseball.

How to watch:

Location: Yankee Stadium — Bronx, NY

First pitch: 7:05 p.m. EST

TV broadcast: YES Network, SNET, MLB Network (out-of-market only)

Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280, SN590

Online stream: MLB.tv

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