The Yankees pulled off a 6-3 victory last night, but it wasn’t without strife. Domingo Germán, who had allowed just four runs over his previous three outings, was off to a perfect start through three innings when he was tossed after a sticky substance check. The Yankees then had to scramble, turning to Ian Hamilton, who seemingly wasn’t prepared to enter the game that early and promptly strained his groin. (He’s now on the IL and Nick Ramirez has been recalled.)
Ultimately, the Bombers had to cycle through four more relievers before all was said and done. Needless to say, they’re hoping Gerrit Cole can soak up some innings tonight. The right-hander hasn’t been ace-like in his last two outings, yielding 4 homers in 10 innings all against Tampa Bay. But the Rays have easily led the league in dingers and overall offense (by wRC+), and Cole had thrown 46.2 homerless innings this season prior (including 5.2 scoreless against Toronto back on April 22nd), so I’m more than willing to give him a mulligan.
He’ll face Chris Bassitt, who has been trending in the opposite direction recently. He’s tossed 16 scoreless innings over his last two outings, including a complete-game shutout in his previous turn against Atlanta, the league’s second-ranked offense. That said, Toronto’s prize free-agent acquisition of the offseason has benefitted from some clear batted-ball luck: his batting average on balls in play, at an even .200, has been the fourth-lowest among qualified starters. And it’s not like he’s been suppressing hard contact, either — his 8.4-percent barrel rate is above average among that same group. Beyond batted-ball statistics, Bassitt’s 9.5 K-BB percentage is tied with Patrick Corbin for 12th-worst. Yikes.
Yankees’ hitters will look to change Bassitt’s fortunes, rolling out a lineup that features Aaron Judge in the two-spot. After going just 3-for-14 with no homers in his first four games off the IL, the captain has been on fire as of late, notching 6 hits in 20 at-bats in his last 4 contests. Five of those six hits have gone for homers, supposed dugout glances notwithstanding. Gleyber Torres will precede him, hitting leadoff. While the second baseman’s recent shaky defense has drawn scrutiny, he’s remained a dangerous hitter, one of just 11 qualifiers with more walks than strikeouts thus far.
Going down the order, the red-hot Rizzo, last week’s AL Player of the Week, will hit third after a rare day off yesterday. LeMahieu will clean up and shift to third after manning first last night. Jake Bauers, the Yankees’ flavor of the week in left field, will hit fifth, with Harrison Bader manning center and hitting sixth after yet another impressive diving grab. Willie Calhoun, with a pretty firm grasp on the DH spot against righties sans Giancarlo Stanton, will hit seventh, and Jose Trevino will hit eighth on the heels of a 3-for-3 night. Rounding things out will be Oswaldo Cabrera at short, who gets the start in place of a somewhat scuffling Volpe (whose 83 wRC+ in May has been well below the 100 average).
Cole will be facing a Vladdy-less Blue Jays lineup after the slugger left last night’s contest with right knee discomfort. But Toronto’s order still packs a punch, with two top-21 wRC+ hitters in Bo Bichette and Matt Chapman hitting second and cleanup, respectively. George Springer will lead off, and although he’s gotten off to a slow start offensively, he has hits in nine of his last 10 starts and a career wRC+ of 132. Brandon Belt, batting fifth, gets the start at first in Guerrero’s stead. He’s certainly not a bad alternative, with a 123 wRC+ against righties this season and a 130 mark on his career.
For Yankees fans in the tri-state are, take note that the game tonight will be on Amazon Prime Video rather than YES Network.
How to watch
Location: Rogers Centre — Toronto, ON
First pitch: 7:07 pm ET
TV broadcast: Amazon Prime Video – NYY / SNET, SNET-1, SNET NOW App – TOR
Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9, WADO 1280
Online stream: MLB.tv
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Cole on the way. #RepBX pic.twitter.com/CJlVdURu6M— New York Yankees (@Yankees) May 17, 2023
Bassitt bump day #NextLevel— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 17, 2023
Join us tonight: https://t.co/LsG4d7Qxzx pic.twitter.com/mYDtzXK5Om