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New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays: Domingo Germán vs. Yusei Kikuchi

Can Germán follow up a career-high in strikeouts with another strong performance against the Jays?

Minnesota Twins v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Three weeks into the season and we get our first titanic clash of two of preseason projected favorites in the AL, with the Yankees welcoming the Blue Jays to the Bronx. You might be surprised to learn that both offenses are hovering right at league average in scoring through the early going, however it’s wise to always expect fireworks when these squads meet.

Domingo Germán is coming off a career-high in strikeouts having fanned 11 Twins his last time out. The curveball in particular has been quite a weapon, accounting for seven of those eleven strikeouts. It currently sports a 36.4 whiff rate, limits batters to a measly .138 xwOBA, and has the third-highest put-away rate (31.7 percent) of any pitcher who has seen at least 25 plate appearances end with a curveball. Aaron Boone also credited his attacking mindset with the fastball as particularly important for setting up the curve. Through three starts, Germán has a 3.86 ERA (114 ERA+), 3.53 FIP, and 19 strikeouts across 14 innings.

Yusei Kikuchi has had quite the odyssey since joining the Blue Jays last season. He became so untenable in the starting rotation that he was demoted to the bullpen in August. However, Toronto liked what they saw from him in spring training — he led qualified starters in ERA and strikeouts — enough to award him the fifth starter job ... and things are right back to where they started. Normally, the Yankees might feel encouraged seeing him on the opposition lineup card — he has produced the second-lowest fWAR, third-worst FIP, and seventh-worst ERA of any qualified starter since his MLB debut in 2019. However, he has frustratingly performed well against the Yankees in a Blue Jays uniform, with a 3.86 ERA and 21:8 strikeout to walk ratio in four starts. In three starts this season, Kikuchi has a 4.70 ERA (93 ERA+), 5.93 FIP, and 17 strikeouts in 15.1 innings.

The Yankees make just one change to the lineup that put up nine runs in the series-clinching victory last night, with Kyle Higashioka giving Jose Trevino a spell at catcher. They do however make a minor yet intriguing shuffle of the infield alignment. DJ LeMahieu gets half a day off at DH, meaning Oswald Peraza slides from second to third*, his first time playing the position in either the majors or minors. Gleyber Torres correspondingly shifts from DH to second.

*Is this a coincidence on the same day that the Yankees announced a Grade 1 hamstring strain for Josh Donaldson? You be the judge.

The Blue Jays aren’t quite sending out their A-lineup; however, the top of the order is still enough to strike fear into the heart of any pitcher. George Springer is off to a slow start but has an annoying habit of stinging the Yankees. Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. look as dangerous as ever, however it’s Matt Chapman who leads baseball with a 239 wRC+. Daulton Varsho and Kevin Kiermaier look like shrewd additions to the outfield on both sides of the ball.

How to watch

First Pitch: 7:05pm EDT

Location: Yankee Stadium — The Bronx, NY

TV broadcast: Apple TV+ (if you’re not subscribed, check out MLB’s free trial)

Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280

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