Series Preview: Yankees vs. Blue Jays (4/19-4/22)
Following a very strange two game set against the Marlins, the Yankees are set to square off against the second-place team in the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays, in a four-game set over the weekend. With a disappointing 8-8 start to the season, the Yankees need to look for momentum here and try to reach the level of success expected of them to start the season. The Jays are on a four-game winning streak after stealing one from the Indians and winning three straight over the Royals. This series provides a perfect opportunity for the Yankees to prove themselves against a solid squad and gain some ground in the division race.
GAME ONE (Thursday, April 19 | First Pitch: 6:35 PM ET)
CC Sabathia (0-0 4.00 ERA) vs. Aaron Sanchez (1-1 3.66 ERA)
Game one features the veteran Sabathia facing off against Aaron Sanchez who has been solid for the Jays to start the season. In his last start, Sabathia was disappointing as the Orioles put up three runs on him in just four innings as he gave up three homers. Sabathia will need to turn it around for this game or he may face a similar fate. Sabathia is coming off the 10-day DL after recovering from hip soreness. Hopefully, it won’t be too detrimental to his performance in a game which will set the tone for the series.
GAME TWO (Friday, April 20 | First Pitch: 7:05 PM ET)
Sonny Gray (1-1 6.92 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (1-1 4.24 ERA)
Game two features two pitchers who have disappointed thus far with the Yankees putting Gray on the mound coming off of a very lackluster performance against the Red Sox in which he was knocked out of the game in just three innings after allowing six runs, seven hits, and issuing two walks. As for the Blue Jays, Estrada is expected to start despite suffering from back spasms as of late. In his last start, Estrada allowed four runs and issued three walks in only four innings of work,which bodes well for the Yankees. If Gray can have a solid outing, then the Yankees may find a way to steal this one from Estrada and company.
GAME THREE (Saturday, April 21 | First Pitch: 1:05 ET)
Jordan Montgomery (1-0 4.70 ERA) vs Marcus Stroman (0-1 7.98 ERA)
The game-three matchup features another matchup of struggling pitchers with Montgomery squaring off against Marcus Stroman. Montgomery has not done well in his last two starts after a strong first start against Tampa, as he’s allowed seven runs, fifteen hits and issued two home runs over these outings. While he’s struggled though, Montgomery has received ample run support in all of his starts, receiving an average of eight runs of support a game. This should continue with Stroman on the mound for the Jays who has allowed four or more runs and three or more walks in all three of his outings to start the season. The Yankees should look to capitalize on his struggles, and this could end up being a high scoring affair.
GAME FOUR (Sunday, April 22 | First Pitch: 1:05 ET)
Luis Severino (3-1 2.63 ERA) vs Jaime Garcia (2-0 3.86 ERA)
Severino has looked like an ace so far this season and performed well in his first face off against Toronto this season, going 5.2 innings while striking out seven and allowing only one hit. In his most recent start, Severino went six innings, striking out eight and allowing just one hit in six innings. Severino has yet to allow a home run this season and has recorded six or more strikeouts in all four of his starts. As for former Yankee Jaime Garcia, he makes his first start against New York this season in the final game of the series. He’s had similar success with strikeouts in his three starts, but has allowed an ample amount of long balls. If the Yankees can take advantage of Garcia’s tendency to allow hitters to go deep, then the Yankees should be in for an easy victory while Severino puts on a stellar performance with no pressure to hold a small lead.
Players to Watch
Stanton’s struggles have been a big part of the Yankees disappointing start to the season, and he’ll have to turn himself around eventually. Unfortunately, there’s no sign of this turn around yet, as Stanton has hit .200, just above his season average, in the past five games. This low average is accompanied by seven strikeouts and just four hits. Hopefully this series jumpstarts his season, as he hit decently in the first series against Toronto, batting .286 with two home runs and four RBIs. If Stanton can turn himself around, the Yankees offense will be much improved and they can likely rattle off some more wins. Aaron Boone has proposed moving Stanton down in the lineup in order to hopefully jolt his bat, look for that in this series.
The story of the Yankees so far, Didi has been the best offensive player on an offensively stacked team. Didi has hit .333 so far with five home runs in the Yankees sixteen games so far, while racking up sixteen RBIs. He put on an offensive showcase in the Yankees’ Monday win over the Marlins, hitting two home runs for three RBIs and drawing a walk in his four recorded at bats. Didi needs to continue being a consistent offensive force for the Yankees if they want to have a chance at reversing their success so far.
In the opening series between these two teams, Diaz hit .100 with three strikeouts and was all around disappointing. Since that series, Diaz has four homers and nine RBIs while hitting .282. If Diaz performs like he did in the first series, it’ll be a big blow to the Jays offense. If he plays like he has since then though, the Yankees may have trouble with him. He could play a big role in the outcome of this series, so keep an eye on him.
Pillar has played well this season for the Jays and is hitting .400 with four RBIs in the past five games. Earlier on, during the season opener, Pillar hit .462 with one home run and six hits. These stats aren’t very encouraging for the Yankees, as Pillar seems primed to light up the Yankees starters and provide some run support which the very streaky Yankees offense will need to counteract. Not to mention, he stole every single base off the Yanks.
This series could either provide a major spark for the Yankees to live up to expectations, or it could be the next chapter in the disappointing season so far for the Bombers. If the Yankees can win the series, it should be considered a success as the Yankees gain ground in the division and build their confidence in themselves as a World Series contender. If the Yankees lose or split the series, change will continue to be demanded by the fans, and we may see more lineup changes and roster moves as the Yankees and Aaron Boone attempt to continue their pursuit of bringing another championship to the Bronx.
Article by: Connor Thoms