Toronto enters this one 14 games behind the Yankees for the wild card. So if they can sweep them...
Friday: Brandon Morrow v. Ivan Nova
This has been Ivan Nova's breakout rookie season, though the degree to which he's broken out is somewhat debatable. His ERA, FIP and xFIP are all hanging around 4, and his strikeout to walk numbers (under 2:1) are not good. He does have gaudy pitcher wins numbers - 14 and 4 - and has won 10 straight decisions heading into tonight's game. And he's probably in the Yankees playoff rotation; sorry AJ. Where Nova succeeds is in getting ground balls, at almost twice the rate he gives up fly balls, and thus keeping the ball in the park. It's a pretty good skill. He is aided in doing this by a fastball that averages 93. He utilizes his curve a fair amount also, and it's a decent pitch that comes in hard for a curve, at about 80. Nova also has a good slider he'll use periodically, and a change-up he'll 4 or 5 times a game. Nova somehow has a 4.24 ERA against the Jays despite allowing an OPS of .855. Jose Bautista is 2 for 6 with 3 walks and a homer, Yunel Escobar 2 for 7, Adam Lind 3 for 7, and JPA 1 for 3.
Saturday: Ricky Romero v. Bartolo Colon
Oh Bartolo. This has been his best season since 2005 - he didn't even pitch last year - and forget left field, it's come out of the parking lot. Colon has regained his velocity, and is pumping in 4 seamers in the mid-low 90s (92-93) to go along with his sinker. He has a hard slider about 10 MPH slower, and like Nova will throw 4-5 change-up's a game. Because he's old and out of shape, pretty much everyone is speculating he is going to need a break before the post-season, or that he won't even make it there. It's probably not a good sign for the Yankees though that articles titled "Fan's Take: Bartolo Colon is the Key to Yankees' Postseason Plans" exist. Also, I don't really understand this but it seems like it might be funny. JPA and Joey Bats are both 2 for 6 with a homer, with the former walking once and the later thrice. Yunel is 4 for 7, Edwin 1 for 9, Lind 2 for 8 and Thames 2 for 4 with 2 doubles. Mike Bordick was 12 for 29 lifetime, maybe we can get him back.
Sunday: Brett Cecil v. Freddy Garcia
Also reclaimed from the island of misfit toys, Freddy Garcia's success has to be considered less shocking than Colon's, at least by a little. Garcia is three years younger and had a good season in 2009, though the end of his run as a consistently good pitcher was in 2005. Garcia has lost zip on his fastball though, almost four mph from his hey day, but the pitch has never been better than average in the Majors and he only throws it about a third of the time. To compensate Garcia's throwing his good split fingered pitch much more than he has in the past. Topping out around 80, Garcia gets good arm action on the splitter, while mixing in a pretty decent curve and still effective slider, and the occasional change-up. Jose is 4 for 8 with 2 home runs and 3 walks, Yunel 4 for 7, Jose Molina 9 for 25, Lind 2 for 6, Eric Thames 3 for 6 with 3 doubles (he sure does hit a lot of doubles), and Mark Teahan 8 for 24. Mike Bordick was only 3 for 15, so probably we want to cut him after Saturday's game.
Otherwise, the Yankees are the Yankees. They lead the majors in runs scored, and their bullpen is phenomenal. There was a Mariano Rivera is old scare a couple of weeks ago; since then he's thrown 7 scoreless innings allowing only 2 hits and striking out 11. So good luck with that one guys. David Robertson has been the best reliever for New York this season though. He has allowed 36 hits in 54.1 innings, while striking out 82. And only one of those hits was a home run. Rafael Soriano might be the team's worst reliever. Luis Ayala, Boone Logan, and Corey Wade have all be pretty good to very good. Scott Proctor was also just called up. Who knows if he's still good, A.T. (After Torre.)
Elsewhere, A-Rod has missed 5 straight games going into tonight, and is a game time decision... Mark Teixeira has a sore knee and was hit by a pitch yesterday, but is likely to play today... Since the All-Star Break Derek Jeter is hitting .343./.400/.436... Curtis Granderson needs to go 0/12 with 10 strikeouts, ideally... the Yankees have 8 hitters having better seasons than the Jays 3rd best hitter (Brett Lawrie by WAR). So for everyone who says the Jays need to fix their bullpen then worry about other stuff... respectfully, you don't know what you are talking about. Runs scored and saved count the same, and every team should be concentrating on trying to maximize their production from every spot in the lineup. Also, three starters for the Yankees this series are all candidates to be in the Yankees playoff rotation, and two of them will probably start...
Infirmary: Sergio Mitre and Joba Chamberlain are both done for the year, while Damaso Marte may make it back for the playoffs.
Credit: Stats from Fangraphs, with an outfield assist from BR and Yahoo!