One last time… (MLB Gifs)

For the final time this season, the Yankees face the Toronto Blue Jays, their peskiest division opponent.

Since They Last Met

After grabbing two of three from the Yankees, the Jays kept their hot streak going by sweeping the Orioles at Camden Yards. Their game on Wednesday was a wild one as they erased a 9-5 deficit while down to their final out.

The Jays are now 62-91 and will likely a 100-loss season. They’re still in line for a top-5 draft pick. The team as a whole has improved in the second half, which bodes well for Toronto’s rebuild. The Jays are unlikely to be back in the playoffs in 2020, but they’ve figured out pieces for their future.

After the Yankees DFA’d Ryan Dull, they claimed him off waivers, though he’s been sent to the Minor Leagues and hasn’t been added to the active roster.

Injury Report

Lefty specialist Tim Mayza underwent elbow surgery and will miss the rest of this season and next, joining LHP Ryan Borucki, RHP Matt Shoemaker and INF Devon Travis on the 60-day IL.

UPDATE: Bo Bichette has been put in concussion protocol after getting hit on the helmet yesterday, and he’s likely to miss the series.

Spotlight: The Season Series

The Yankees handled the AL East this year. After going 44-32 in division a season ago, they’ve beaten up on their common foes to the tune of a 52-19 record with five intradivision contests to go. That’s part of why they’ll eclipse last season’s 100-win total and have won their first AL East title in seven years.

But the Jays have been a thorn in their sides, winning 7 of 16 games in the matchup thus far. The Yankees were unable to win a series at Rogers Centre (though they split a four-game set) while marching to a 5-1 record at home.

The Yankees-Jays matchup has produced some of the most frustrating losses this year. There was the missed strike call that preceding a Masahiro Tanaka meltdown. Zack Britton allowing a go-ahead homer to Vlad Jr…

Adam Ottavino gave up game-winning two-run hits to both Vladito and Randal Grichuk. Oh yeah, and Bichette hitting a walk-off shot in the 12th inning last week.

Of the seven Blue Jays wins, all but two have been by two runs or fewer, and one of the larger losses was a game the Yankees led into the eighth inning.

If the Yankees miss out on homefield advantage, there will be plenty of games that fans can turn to think about and believe that did the trick. The Jays were on the winning end of a lot of them.

Potential Lineup

  1. Cavan Biggio, 2B (.235/.362/.432, 114 wRC+)
  2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B (.274/.344/.443, 109 wRC+)
  3. Randal Grichuk, RF (.234/.284/.461, 92 wRC+)
  4. Rowdy Tellez, DH (.222/.286/.434, 84 wRC+)
  5. Justin Smoak, 1B (.206/.342/.398, 100 wRC+)
  6. Derek Fisher, LF (.188/.299/.368, 80 wRC+)
  7. Teoscar Hernández, CF (.219/.292/.440, 90 wRC+)
  8. Danny Jansen, C (.210/.282/.359, 69 wRC+)
  9. Richard Ureña, SS (.273/.286/.364, 69 wRC+)

(Ed Note: Lineup updated to reflect Bo Bichette’s likely absence.) On the bench, Toronto has backup catcher Reese McGuire (151 wRC+), utility man Brandon Drury (68 wRC+), and outfielders Anthony Alford (43 wRC+), Jonathan Davis (-2 wRC+) and Billy McKinney (72 wRC+).

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7:05 PM ET) J.A. Happ (vs. Jays) vs. Jacob Waguespack (vs. Yankees)

Waguespack has faced the Yankees twice. Each time, he’s allowed three runs and lasted 3 2/3 innings. He was personally victimized by Brett Gardner in his most recent appearance, allowing both a home run and RBI double. In the previous outing, he gave up homers to Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela.

Of the Jays’ rookie pitchers, he hasn’t stood out and has pitched to about league-average (97 ERA+). Still, the 25-year-old right hander likely has earned at least a look in 2020 for Toronto. He works primarily with his various fastballs that top out in the low-90s while working in a curveball as his primary offspeed pitch.

Waguespack (Baseball Savant)

Saturday (1:05 PM ET) TBD (vs. Jays) vs. T.J. Zeuch (vs. Yankees)

Zeuch made his first career start and third career appearance against the Yankees on Sunday. Considering the Yankees’ lineup, he was impressive while scattering eight baserunners and allowing three runs (two earned) over 5 1/3 innings. He outdueled the Yankees’ bullpen game en route to victory.

If you saw Sunday’s game, you know that despite his tall stature, he’s a sinker-baller, not a fireballing behemoth. The Yankee broadcast speculated that his height could help him get better angles and utilize the sinker, but I can’t say for sure. Either way, he was able to throw the pitch for strikes and get guys out, even fanning five batters.

Sunday (1:05 PM ET) TBD vs. Trent Thornton (vs. Yankees)

Thornton will be facing the Yankees for the fourth time. Funny enough, his best performance (one run over six innings) earned him a loss while his two poor starts against the Bombers were no decisions.

In the month since the Yankees last saw him, he’s lowered his ERA by nearly a half run to 4.93, really finding his way in September. In 14 2/3 innings, he’s allowed four runs (two earned) and struck out 15 to five walks and just seven hits.

Part of Thornton’s recent turnaround could be Clay Buchholz returning from the injured list. The veteran right-hander showed him his curveball grip and it appears to have done wonders for his young counterpart (though Buchholz has continued to struggle).

Thornton (Baseball Savant)

Bullpen Status

Here’s who they have:

RHPs: Ken Giles, Jason Adam, Wilmer Font, Sam Gaviglio, Derek Law, Elvis Luciano, Jordan Romano, Justin Shafer, Ryan Tepera, Brock Stewart

LHPs: Buddy Boshers, Thomas Pannone

As mentioned in the injury report, Tim Mayza is done for this year and next with Tommy John surgery. He’s a LOOGY and has been the matchup guy for the Jays.

Beyond him, it’s basically the same crew. Ken Giles is the closer, though he hasn’t thrown back-to-back outings in a while. Derek Law and Sam Gavilio have gotten opportunities to set him up, and Ryan Tepera could regain that role further removed from injury.

Wilmer Font is the go-to opener. He’s been a revelation in Toronto after previous undistinguished stops with the Dodgers, A’s, Rays and Mets. If he opens this series, it’ll likely be for Zeuch or Thornton after he opened for Anthony Kay on Thursday.