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Yankees 2015 potential playoff opponent: Toronto Blue Jays

Not them again!

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

If you check the Yankees' 2015 media guide, their principal owners are listed as Hal Steinbrenner, Hank Steinbrenner and the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto won 13 of 19 meetings with New York this year, outscoring them a combined 81-56 while eclipsing what was once an eight-game lead en route to a probable division crown.

If the Yankees hope to make a World Series run next month, odds are that road will at some point veer into Canada. As it stands today, New York and Toronto would avoid each other until the ALCS with the Yankees facing the Astros in the Wild Card game and the Royals in the Division Series if they win, while the Jays take on Texas. If Toronto catches Kansas City for the AL's best record the two AL East rivals would meet in the Division Series if the Yankees escape the play-in. Of course, there's still the outside chance that Yankees win the division, which would favor an ALCS match-up.

The Rotation

Toronto's rotation starts and ends with David Price...literally. In a 5-game Division Series he'd likely pitch games 1 and 5 and with no long-term investment to protect, the Jays might even throw him on short rest in games 1, 4 and 7 of the ALCS. Historically, the Yankees have had decent success against the towering lefty - he has a 4.19 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 31 career meetings - but he's turned it up a notch of late, beating New York three times in four starts since August 8th.

Behind Price, the Jays have Marco Estrada in the midst of a 3.13 ERA/1.08 WHIP career year and 40-year-old knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who's been a headache for the Yankees and has a typically solid 4.05 ERA and 1.24 WHIP overall. Veteran lefty Mark Buehrle will reach 30 starts this weekend for a ridiculous 15th straight year, but Toronto could also use talented 24-year-old Marcus Stroman - who's looked sharp since returning from a torn ACL - as their fourth starter due to Buehrle's 0-7 record and 6.22 ERA at the new Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees have the depth edge with Michael Pineda, Luis Severino and a resurgent CC Sabathia backing up Masahiro Tanaka, but it's tough to pick against Price, knowing John Gibbons will ride him like he's American Pharoah if necessary.

Advantage: Blue Jays, if Stroman starts.

The Bullpen

If the Yankees can say definitively that they're better than the Blue Jays in one area, it's at the end of games, where Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller dwarf (in more ways than one) what Toronto has to offer. For awhile, it seemed like Roberto Osuna and Aaron Sanchez would form a dynamic duo of their own, but both have struggled in September as they've obliterated career highs in appearances. Still, Blue Jay relievers are fifth in the AL with a 3.38 ERA. Liam Hendricks and Brett Cecil have both been solid and if Gibbons decides to put Stroman in the pen for the playoffs it would be a major boost.

The Yankees don't have a long 'pen now that Chasen Shreve has crumbled and none of the Scranton shuttle riders have really stepped up, but Justin Wilson and Adam Warren (if he's not starting in the playoffs) are good enough to get middle-inning outs. With plenty of built-in off days, Miller and Betances will be available every night for six outs or more.

Advantage: Yankees

The Lineup

Good news: The Yankees are top three in the American League in runs scored, home runs and OPS+. Bad news: The Blue Jays are first in all three. Toronto's lineup is simply stacked. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion have combined for 71 home runs and 210 RBI and have wRC+'s of 145 and 148 respectively. Neither of them are leading the team in any of those things because Josh Donaldson, the favorite for AL MVP honors, is shamelessly strutting a .301/.371/.574 triple slash and 39 dingers. It doesn't stop there. Ex-Yankee Russell Martin has added 21 bombs from the catcher spot, while Chris Colabello and Justin Smoak have combined for another 30 sharing time at first. Ben Revere gives the Jays a traditional leadoff threat and has a .348 OBP since coming over from Philadelphia in July and Troy Tulowitzki, another trade acquisition you may have heard of, may return from his cracked left scapula in time for October.

The Yankees have done a great job piecing an effective offense together in the face of injuries to some hitters and inconsistency from others. From a sheer talent perspective, though, they're at a heavy deficit. In theory, hard-throwing, grounder-inducing, low-walk right-handers like Tanaka and Pineda are the best match-up you can hope for against a righty-laden lineup like Toronto's. The Jays will hit ‘em out of the park, but the key to keeping things manageable is to make sure there are as few runners on base as possible when it happens.

Advantage: Blue Jays

The Yankees will be underdogs if they meet Toronto in the playoffs, given the repeated drubbings they've taken in August and September and how well the Jays have played in the second half. Consider, though, that postseason games often take a different tact when the likes of Branden Pinder and Caleb Cotham aren't on the mound at decisive moments. If Yankee starters can keep games close, they'll have a puncher's chance at a late knockout.