Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees (5/24-5/26)

Fresh off sweeping the A's in Oakland, the Yankees look to build on their recent success as they host the Blue Jays for three games in the Bronx this week. After dropping two straight to the Diamondbacks, the Yankees managed to salvage the series finale before winning four in Oakland, thus contributing to their five game winning streak, their longest of the season. As of Sunday, the Yankees officially pulled themselves within one game of .500, while simultaneously digging themselves out of the AL East's cellar, which currently belongs to our upcoming opponents: the Toronto Blue Jays. As of now, things are finally beginning to look bright in the Bronx, so it's imperative that we continue these winning ways and capitalize on an opportunity to defeat a struggling Blue Jays team.

Three keys to success:

1. Have a lead after six innings: The lethal trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman undoubtedly comprise this team's biggest strength. For this reason, it is essential that the Yankees translate this irrefutable advantage into as many wins as humanely possible. With all three guys ready to go on any given night, it will be awfully tough for any opposing team to overcome a deficit after the sixth inning.

2. Stable starting pitching- Throughout the last couple of weeks the Yankees have shown a significant improvement in this regard. The suddenly resurgent CC Sabathia, who just returned from the disabled list this past Saturday, should be an improvement over the struggling Luis Severino, who is currently on the disabled list. Nathan Eovaldi and Ivan Nova, the other two Yankee starters this series, have also pitched fairly well thus far. With the rotation finally beginning to iron itself out, the Blue Jays offense will provide our starters with a formidable test.

3. Continue to hit with runners in scoring position: Similar to my first point, this may be a no brainer, however it is essential to any team's success. Given the inability of the Yankees offense to do this for most of April, it was no surprise they were tasked with digging themselves out of a seemingly insurmountable hole. Fortunately, they've begun to reverse this trend, however I'm hoping the probable return of Alex Rodriguez this Tuesday won't disrupt the offense's current rhythm. Furthermore, Mark Teixeira HAS to start hitting. With Chase Headley performing relatively better of late, Teixeira has, in many ways, become a scapegoat for many fans. Hopefully, a return to the short porch in Yankee Stadium can give Teixeira the spark he needs to turn his season around.

Game 1 (5/24): R.A. Dickey (2-5, 4.50 ERA) vs. Nathan Eovaldi (4-2, 4.44 ERA)

For some reason, the Yankees have had trouble with knuckle ballers over the last couple of years, as has been evidenced by the struggles we've seen this team have against Steven Wright of the Boston Red Sox. While I'm confident that this offense can knock around Dickey on any given night, I'm not sure that will necessarily happen. On the other hand, they've shown signs of life lately, and Dickey hasn't pitched too well this season. Nathan Eovaldi has also put together a nice string of successful starts, so I have to give the Yankees a slight advantage in this game.

Game 2 (5/25): Marco Estrada (1-2, 2.61 ERA) vs. Ivan Nova (3-1, 3.26 ERA)

For the most part, I view this pitching matchup as fairly even, though I may give a slight advantage to the Blue Jays because Nova can be quite unpredictable at times. Factoring the Yankees' offensive inconsistencies into the equation makes it difficult to declare a clear cut favorite in this game. I can certainly see the Yankees winning this game, however I can also see it going the other way.

Game 3 (5/26): Aaron Sanchez (4-1, 3.20 ERA) vs. CC Sabathia (3-2, 3.41)

I may be basing this off of a small sample size, but for the first time in almost four years I have a degree of confidence in CC Sabathia's pitching abilities. As one of his biggest critics over the last few years, I must admit that he has impressed me thus far. Facing an offensive juggernaut, such as the Blue Jays, will be a huge test for Sabathia, so hopefully he's up to the challenge. On the other hand, Sanchez has been quite impressive this year so the Yankees offense will certainly have its hands full in this regard. This game is certainly winnable, however I may give a slight advantage to the Blue Jays.

Conclusion: The Yankees are more than capable of taking two of three form the Blue Jays this week. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays are also capable of taking two of three from the Yankees. Simply because the Yankees have been playing well of late and the Blue Jays have been struggling, I'm going to go ahead and predict the Yankees will win two out of three. I foresee an outright clobbering of R.A. Dickey, followed by a loss in the second game. In the series finale, I contend that Sabathia will continue his resurgence, taking a major step forward in his path towards becoming a reputable starting pitcher once again. Nonetheless, hopefully once this series has concluded the Yankees will finally be over .500, a position they should not relinquish for the duration of the season.

How do you think the Yankees will do against the Blue Jays in this upcoming series? Tweet us your opinion in response to this article!

Article by Steven Eareckson

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