The Yankees were very active at the trade deadline, adding multiple players to upgrade the roster. They have been among the better teams in the American League throughout the year but need the starting rotation to hold up down the stretch. This isn’t the easiest series despite New York holding a better record and the Blue Jays should put up a decent fight.
New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Dates: Tuesday, August 8, 2017 – Thursday, August 10, 2017
Location: The Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The Yankees are 59-51 on the season and sit three games behind the Boston Red Sox in the A.L. East. New York would love to win the division in order to avoid playing in the sudden death wild card playoff game. New York has the second-best run-differential in the American League at plus-115, behind only the Astros, so it definitely seems like a contender, but it’s an uphill battle to catch Boston in the division.
The Blue Jays have been hit hard by injuries this season and sit at only 52-59 on the year. Star third baseman Josh Donaldson missed a significant chunk of time early on and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is currently on the disabled list. Outfielder Jose Bautista has been healthy but isn’t hitting like a star any longer, while Edwin Encarnacion left the team in free agency. Toronto is going to keep the core together and take another shot next season, but its chances at the playoffs this year are close to nil.
Game 1 Probable Pitchers – Tuesday, August 8, 2017, 7:07 p.m. ET (Local TV)
C.C. Sabathia (Yankees) vs. J.A. Happ (Blue Jays)
Sabathia has reinvented himself late in his career as a soft-tossing veteran who can still get the job done. The Yankees left-hander is 9-4 with a 3.81 ERA. Sabathia only has 77 strikeouts in 99.1 innings pitched but is only allowing a .237 batting average against, which is keeping his ERA down. It’s a fair question whether he can keep this up all season, but so far, so good.
Happ is 4-8 with a 3.92 ERA. He has superior peripheral numbers to Sabathia with a better strikeout rate and strikeout-to-walk ratio, so the Blue Jays have the advantage there. However, the Yankees have such a powerful lineup, led by Aaron Judge, that it won’t be easy to get through it unscathed. It will be interesting to see which team is favored in this one. Check the top 10 online sportsbooks for odds.
Game 2 Probable Pitchers – Wednesday, August 9, 2017, 7:07 p.m. ET (Local TV)
Masahiro Tanaka (Yankees) vs. Cesar Valdez (Blue Jays)
After a rough start to the year, Tanaka has been better of late. He has an overall record of 8-10 with a 4.93 ERA this year but has dazzled in his past two outings. The veteran right-hander allowed one earned run in eight innings of work against the Rays and then followed that up by allowing one earned run in six innings against the Tigers. If he can turn it around that would be a big boost to the Yankees’ playoff chances.
Valdez is 1-1 with a 7.63 ERA and nothing more than a spot starter. Valdez has not found any success in his career and the journeyman could get hit hard by the Yankees.
Game 3 Probable Pitchers – Thursday, August 10, 2017, 7:07 p.m. ET (Local TV)
Sonny Gray (Yankees) vs. Marco Estrada (Blue Jays)
Gray will make his second start for the Yankees since getting acquired from the Athletics at the trading deadline. Gray is 6-6 on the season with a 3.41 ERA. In his New York debut, Gray gave up two earned run in six innings of work against the Indians but took the loss as the offense couldn’t give him any support.
Estrada is 4-7 with a 5.12 ERA. He has an elite strikeout rate but has been hit hard when batters put the ball in play. He needs to minimize the damage in this one to give the Blue Jays a legitimate shot at winning.