Though the Yankees’ bullpen ultimately blew it wide open, two-thirds of yesterday’s bout with the Blue Jays was a joy to watch, as Michael King set the team’s 2023 bar for single-game strikeouts and matched perennial ace Kevin Gausman blow-for-blow. With Gerrit Cole squaring off against José Berríos tonight, we could be in for a repeat affair, hopefully without a relief implosion (and with the offense showing up).
Cole is coming off one of his worst starts — a five-inning, two-run outing against the lowly Pirates in which he walked three for the first time since May. That appearance wasn’t all that bad, but it speaks volumes about Cole’s season as a whole given it was one of his worst. Per FanGraphs, he’s projected to win his first Cy Young, using either their ERA-based or FIP-based models. In what looks to be his penultimate appearance this season, a start like King’s or Gausman’s — the latter being his closest competition per the FIP projections — tonight would go a long way toward solidifying his candidacy.
Berríos, who initially came over as a half-season rental in a 2021 trade with the Twins, inked a seven-year extension prior to last season. His first campaign on that contract was an ugly one, as he posted his worst strikeout rate, home run rate, and ERA since his rookie season, but he’s rebounded in a big way this year. His last time out he tossed seven scoreless against Boston, punching out eight without issuing a walk and lowering his ERA to 3.49.
The Jays’ right-hander won’t have to face Austin Wells, who accounted for all of the Yankees’ offense last night with his first big-league homer and a double to boot. He’ll take a seat in favor of Ben Rortvedt, who’s become Cole’s personal catcher. Rortvedt will hit ninth.
Elsewhere, Isiah Kiner-Falefa returns to the lineup, manning third and hitting sixth. He’ll give Oswald Peraza a day off, with the rookie 0-for-9 with seven strikeouts — including a golden sombrero last night — in his last three starts. Oswaldo Cabrera gets another start in left field, hitting eighth; along with Wells and Gleyber Torres, Cabrera was one of just three Yankees to notch a hit last night. His two singles lifted his line in September to .244/.346/.356, a huge step up from the beginning of the season.
Meanwhile, for the Blue Jays, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will miss a second straight game with a knee issue. Still, the Yankees will have to contend with plenty of pop atop Toronto’s lineup — one and two hitters George Springer and Bo Bichette have each gone 4-for-9 with a homer and a walk in the first two games of the series.
How to watch:
Location: Yankee Stadium — Bronx, NY
First pitch: 7:05 pm ET
TV Broadcast: YES — NYY, Sportsnet — TOR, MLBN — out of market
Radio Broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280/WEEI 93.7
Online Stream: MLB.tv