Oh boy! The Yanks get to face the Toronto Annoyings of Annoyingville during the last official weekend of summer™ (though it obviously goes through September 21st, and oftentimes the weather stays pleasant even into October, many still consider Labor Day weekend the end of summer. Not me, though.) for the fifth of six times this season. Anyone else as tired as I am of the unbalanced schedule?
As we noted last week, in going 7-5 against the Bombers Toronto has beaten the Yankees more times than any other team has this season. That's partially a function of having played the Yankees more than almost everyone else, but also due to the Blue Jays' underrated and outstanding starting pitching and scary-powerful offense. Fortunately the Yankees will be at home this series, where they perform significantly better. The Yankees are going to end up throwing almost the exact same pitchers at the Jays as last week's set, which means CC Sabathia still hasn't pitched against Toronto this season.
This afternoon's game features Ivan Nova (1.93 ERA; 2.89 FIP; 3.23 xFIP) making his third Major League start against flame-throwing Brandon Morrow (4.27 ERA; 3.16 FIP; 3.61 xFIP). Morrow's faced the Yankees four times this season and the Jays have won two of those games, the most recent of which was Nova's MLB debut. Morrow's been all over the place against the Yanks, giving up five earned runs in the two weaker outings and one and two earned runs, respectively, in the superior outings. On the season, Morrow's been outstanding, accumulating 0.5 WAR in the week and a half since the last Yanks-Jays preview, bringing his season total to 3.6, good for 13th-best in the American League. Additionally, Morrow is the anti-Trevor Cahill, leading the league in positive delta between his ERA and FIP, which means Morrow has pitched even better than his numbers indicate. That's scary. And if all that weren't enough, this is apparently going to be Morrow's last start of the season due to innings limits, which leads me to believe he'll be completely unloading the tank. For what it's worth, Nova held his own against a tough Toronto lineup last time out, although he'll need to make significant adjustments in his approach after having just seen the Blue Jays.
The second game features Javier Vazquez (4.86 ERA; 5.29 FIP; 4.71 xFIP) likely being caddied by Dustin Moseley (4.86 ERA; 6.07 FIP; 4.86 xFIP) vs. Marc Rzepczynski (6.03 ERA; 5.02 FIP; 4.51 xFIP) for some reason. I had assumed the Jays would skip Rzepczynski given their day off on Thursday and the fact that he's basically been the only Toronto pitcher the Yankees have been able to hit hard this season. If that were the case, the Yanks would have to face both Brett Cecil and Ricky Romero this weekend, which would've spelled certain doom. It appears the Jays are cutting the Yankees a huge break here by not throwing Romero in the Sunday game. In any event, given the uncertainty stemming from the Vazquez/Moseley two-headed monster along with Rzepczynski's suckiness, and this could be one ugly game. The Bombers need to win this one, since they get to face Yankee Kryptonite™ Brett Cecil (3.74 ERA; 3.92 FIP; 4.17 xFIP) in the finale.
Cecil has pitched like a poor man's Felix Hernandez against the Yankees this year (1.64 ERA over 22 innings), and until they show me otherwise I have no reason to expect that the Bombers will do anything but continue to suck against Cecil. Between Phil Hughes' (4.10 ERA; 4.08 FIP; 4.35 xFIP) recent difficulties in finishing hitters off and Cecil's ownership of the Yanks, this is pretty close to a guaranteed Toronto win.
Here are the two teams' offense and pitching numbers:
Nothing new to see here. It's the same story with the Jays: low BA and OBP but insane slugging, bolstered by some incredibly strong starting pitching. If the Yankees can somehow keep Jose Bautista -- who has hit six of his 43 home runs against New York -- in the ballpark, that'll probably be a moral victory in and of itself.
The Yankees have played a lot better during the past week and a half, but given the Jays' mastery of the Bombers this season, I fully expect Toronto to take two of three this weekend until proven otherwise.