The Yankees head up north to face the Blue Jays in a crucial four-game set. It has been Jekyll and Hyde for Toronto of late — they got swept by the Red Sox, then swept the Pirates, got swept by the Phillies, and finally capped off a three-game sweep over the then-NL-best Braves in walk-off fashion. The Bombers will hope this series against their AL East rivals will continue this flip-flop pattern.
New York utilizes an opener for the first time this season, and the first time dating back to September 11th of last season, where Domingo Germán pitched the first inning on three days’ rest as New York would go on to top Tampa Bay, 10-4. There was also June 16th of last season, when Clarke Schmidt pitched three scoreless innings to open a game against the Rays that the Yankees would go on to walk off, 2-1, on an Anthony Rizzo home run. Prior to that, you have to go back to August 11, 2021, when old friend Lucas Luetge pitched two innings of an eventual 5-2 win over the Royals.
Jimmy Cordero earns the opportunity having solidified himself in the Yankees bullpen after winning a roster spot out of spring. He has looked solid across 15 appearances, with a 2.81 ERA (156 ERA+), 2.92 FIP, 17:3 strikeout to walk ratio, and only one home run surrendered in 16 innings. Jhony Brito will likely follow him as the bulk guy out of the bullpen after Toronto’s top hitters face Cordero. It’s an intriguing strategy — Brito has a 7.17 ERA in the first three innings and 2.79 ERA in innings 4-6. Overall, the 25-year-old rookie is 2-3 in eight starts, with a 5.81 ERA (75 ERA+), 5.94 FIP, and 22 strikeouts in 31 innings.
Toronto on the other hand go the traditional route with Alek Manoah making the start. He has stumbled a bit out of the blocks in 2023 — strikeouts are down, home runs are up, and he’s running the third-highest walk rate (13.1 percent) of any qualified pitcher. That being said, he always seems to find his best stuff against the Yankees. He’s been a thorn in their side since his MLB debut against them in 2021, pitching to a 1.93 ERA, 2.87 FIP, and 43:14 strikeout to walk ratio in seven starts totaling 42 innings. Across his first eight starts in 2023, Manoah is 1-3 with a 4.83 ERA (88 ERA+), 5.76 FIP, and 32 strikeouts in 41 innings.
The Yankees make several changes to the lineup that narrowly dropped the series finale against the Rays yesterday. Gleyber Torres returns from his day off to play second, shifting Oswaldo Cabrera to third to give DJ LeMahieu a day’s rest. Kyle Higashioka spells Jose Trevino behind the plate while Aaron Hicks returns from a brief absence due to hip discomfort, giving Harrison Bader the day off in center.
The Blue Jays lineup spells danger at practically every spot one through nine. Matt Chapman has cooled off considerably from being the hottest hitter in the league through the first month. Unfortunately for the Yankees, almost every other hitter on the card has picked up their play in May, Brandon Belt and Kevin Kiermaier in particular sporting a wRC+ in excess of 200 since the calendar page turned over.
How to watch
Location: Rogers Centre — Toronto, CA
First pitch: 7:07 pm ET
TV broadcast: YES – NYY / SNET-1 - TOR
Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9, WADO 1280
Online stream: MLB.tv
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New series up North. #RepBX pic.twitter.com/hBP8RC9i9e— New York Yankees (@Yankees) May 15, 2023
A new series begins tonight!— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 15, 2023
Join us: https://t.co/oYWAqUOX7g pic.twitter.com/rAqG0ZtXiE