After a 7-1 thumping to open their series against the Blue Jays, a loss tonight would once again drop the Yankees’ record back down to .500. Their goal of extending their winning-seasons streak looks like it will come down to the wire, but a win tonight against a tough opponent and an especially savvy hurler could go a long way towards making that happen.
Kevin Gausman lines up against the Bombers tonight. A perennial Cy Young candidate since he began featuring his signature splitter more prominently as a starter in 2020, he’s using his trademark offering at a career-high 38.4 percent this season. Otherwise, he turns to his four-seamer half of the time and works in the occasional slider. Due to his largely two-pitch approach, Gausman is vulnerable to a blowup when hitters start guessing right — he has four starts of at least six runs allowed this season, and he walked six in his last outing. Otherwise, he’s been nails, but the Bombers will certainly hope for a blowup tonight.
Even if Gausman has his A-game, Michael King has demonstrated the capacity to match him pitch-for-pitch. In his last four starts, the right-hander has amassed 26 strikeouts in 18.2 innings against just two walks and three earned runs. He’s looked increasingly comfortable as a starter, and he’s flat-out dominated in his last two outings, punching out 17 in 9.2 innings. If nothing else, the Yankees’ absence from the playoff race has afforded them the opportunity to try King as a starter, and he’s rewarded them handsomely.
Against King, the Jays will largely run it back with their seven-run-producing lineup from last night. The one major change is that Davis Schneider, who started off his major-league career so well but has gone 0-for-23 in his last six starts, will take a seat in favor of fellow rookie Spencer Horwitz. A lefty first baseman called up in the injured Brandon Belt’s place, Horwitz adds some more balance to a righty-dominant lineup that would otherwise be susceptible to King’s vicious sweeper. (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is also a late scratch.)
The Yankees will counter by trading a pair of righties for lefties themselves. Estevan Florial, in place of Isiah Kiner-Falefa, will take over in center while Austin Wells will tag in for Kyle Higashioka behind the dish. The rookie Wells gets another shot hitting cleanup, his fourth such opportunity of the year, a major vote of confidence in him despite his struggles with the stick. That pushes Giancarlo Stanton to the five-spot; the veteran has limped to a 71 wRC+, with just five hits (albeit, four of them homers), in 47 September at-bats. The Donaldson-esque performance down the stretch could preclude Stanton from being a major part of the Yankees’ future plans, though the Yankees are highly unlikely to ditch his contract outright with four years remaining.
How to watch:
Location: Yankee Stadium — Bronx, NY
First pitch: 7:05 pm ET
TV Broadcast: Amazon Prime Video — NYY, Sportsnet — TOR
Radio Broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280/WEEI 93.7
Online Stream: Prime, MLB.tv