The Yankees head to Canada to play the Toronto Extra Base Hits for the fourth of six times this season. I for one am not looking forward to this series at all. Toronto is 5-4 against the Yankees in 2010 and has basically blown the Yankees out of the water with a non-stop barrage of doubles and home runs in all of those wins except the 14-inning nailbiter on June 5. Additionally, despite moving everyone in the rotation back a day, the pitching match-ups don’t look great for the Yanks in this series, though they do mercifully miss 10th-most-valuable-pitcher-in-the-AL Ricky Romero. As an aside, despite Friday night’s drubbing, the Baltimore Orioles of Canada continue to roll over and die for Boston, and have now gone 4-11 against the Sox this season.
In the first game Ivan Nova (0.00 ERA; 2.43 FIP; 3.34 xFIP), who pitched three scoreless innings in relief for the Yanks back in May, makes his first career Major League start against Brandon Morrow (4.45 ERA; 3.29 FIP; 3.80 xFIP). We’ll have more on Nova’s debut in a separate blog post shortly. The Yankees have already seen Morrow three times this year and won two of those games, so despite his excellent season (3.1 WAR) the Bombers have shown that they are capable of getting to him. I imagine this will wind up being a rather high-scoring affair, but perhaps the Yanks pull this one out.
Game two has Dustin Moseley (4.76 ERA; 6.30(!) FIP;4.80 xFIP) going against Marc Rzepczynski (4.76 ERA; 3.89 FIP; 4.19 xFIP). The Yanks haven’t seen Rzepczynski this season (shudder), though they have faced him in the past, knocking him around for 8 runs over 9 1/3 innings last season. Moseley was semi-adequate last time out against the Jays, but his luster has worn off a bit since then as his array of off-speed stuff hasn’t been very effective given his inability to change speeds. Moseley also currently boasts the worst FIP on the entire Yankee pitching staff. This could be another offensive showdown.
And in the finale, Phil Hughes (3.90 ERA; 3.92 FIP; 4.21 xFIP) takes on Brett Cecil (3.90 ERA; 3.90 FIP; 4.20 xFIP), who dominated the Yankees to the tune of one run over 8 innings back on June 4. Hughes has two starts against the Jays this year, the first one poor, the second one much, much better. Phil’s also pitched well of late after his rocky June and July, posting a 3.63 ERA (4.17 FIP) over the last month. Cecil’s another Jays starter having a nice season (2.2 WAR, 28th-best in the AL). This one seems like a pretty big toss-up.
I don’t quite get the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays. On paper they look like beasts — a top-five offense primarily fueled by a tremendous slugging prowess along with a sterling pitching staff. Not that these numbers tell the entire story by any stretch of the imagination, but both the Jays’ team wOBA and FIP are superior to the Rays’ overall totals, yet the Rays have outplayed the Jays by 11.5 games. The Jays’ offense is a shining example of how you can bash the heck out of the ball but it won’t win you as many games as it could if guys aren’t getting on base frequently enough.
It’s also a prime example of what happens when you reside in the AL East — the Jays are easily the best fourth-place team in all of baseball right now. Toronto’s pitching staff is equally scary; if the team is able to go out and get a couple of high-OBP guys for the top of that lineup while maintaining its core, they could be even more dangerous than they already are.
Similar to the just-completed series with the M’s, the pitching match-ups on paper look like a slight advantage for the Jays. However, despite my overriding concerns regarding this needs-to-be-taken-far-more-seriously vintage of the Toronto Blue Jays, if the Yankee offense is up for the challenge they should be able to take two of three against our neighbors from the north. After all, Boston just did it.
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