The Blue Jays start a 3-game series in the Bronx against the Yankees in the House Patterned after the House That Ruth Built.
As you know, the Yankees are in first place in the AL East, with a 4.5 game lead on the Jays. They have been very surprising. Offensively, they are second in the league to the Jays in runs scored (4.93/game), being led by a bunch of old guys having very good seasons. Mark Texiera has a 4.1 bWAR, a number he hasn't reached since 2009. ARod has a .924 OPS, he hasn't been over .900 since 2009.
On the pitching/defense side they 10th in the AL, (one spot behind the Jays) allowing 4.28 runs/game (Jays are 4.25).
I sent off some questions to Tanya Bondurant of Pinstripe Alley, Here is what she had to say.
Michael Pinada has no end of bad luck with injuries. What's the latest injury? Do you expect him back this year? Who takes his spot in the rotation?
Michael Pineda has a forearm strain that is expected to keep him out for the month of August. Masahiro Tanaka and Andrew Miller had the same injury earlier this season and each missed about a month, so I'd expect the same with Pineda. That would put him back in the rotation in September for the stretch run.
Luis Severino is taking Pineda's spot in the rotation for right now. He's the Yankees' top prospect and his debut has been much anticipated. Severino was dominating Triple-A before getting called up, and he performed well in his first game against the Red Sox. There's a lot to be excited about.
The Yankees did do much at the trade deadline. Are fans upset? What would you have liked them to do?
Some fans are upset that the Yankees didn't go out and get a frontline starter at the deadline, but I think most fans understand why they didn't. The team finally has a lot of their talent at the upper levels of the minors with Severino just making his MLB debut and Aaron Judge and Greg Bird also playing at Triple-A. It would cost too much of the future to bring in a rental pitcher for a team that already has a lead in the division playing with what they have.
The one thing I would have liked to see them do at the deadline was bring up second base prospect Rob Refsnyder. He had a brief cameo for four games right before the break but got sent down upon Brendan Ryan's return. Unfortunately for him, Ryan and Stephen Drew decided to both get hot offensively at the same time which likely kept him in the minors a bit longer. Otherwise, I'm fine with the team's lack of moves.
Before the season the Yankees seemed to want to void Alex Rodriguez' contract, but he's been pretty amazing, having his best season since 2009. How is he doing this? Have Yankees fans forgiven and forgotten?
I think the time off and not playing the field has helped Rodriguez play as well as he has to this point. He'd missed a lot of time with injuries before his suspension and getting a year off, even if for a bad reason, likely helped him save some wear and tear on his body. A-Rod has also been vocal about how not playing third base every day has helped him avoid any nagging injuries. He's got a fantastic eye at the plate, just as he always has. It's been really fun to watch and the Yankees are certainly not in first place without him.
Playing well will help right a lot of wrongs and I think that's where most Yankees fans are these days. All they want is for him to contribute in a positive way to the team, which he is obviously doing. He's even helped some of the younger infielders work out kinks here and there, and he's said everything right in front of the media. There are some fans who will never forgive him and will always hate him, but that was true even before the suspension.
How confident are you that the Yankees will hold on to the division lead?
There's a lot of baseball to be played, but I'm at least reasonably confident that the Yankees will win the division. They have a good lead which can help buffer a rough stretch, and they get to play a lot at home for the rest of the season where they have been very good. Anything can happen, but I like their chances.
Who do you think will be the Yankees September call ups?
I assume the Yankees will call up Refsnyder, who I mentioned before. Outfielder Slade Heathcott will also probably be back with the team after a short stint earlier in the season. Aside from those guys, expect a ton of relievers to be brought up. They have basically been moving back and forth through a revolving door between the Bronx and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre all season and rosters expanding will mean they can all come up at once. Girardi loves his relievers.
How's Didi Gregorius doing as a replacement for Jeter?
Gregorius got off to a really poor start to the season, but he was one of the team's hottest hitters in July. He's really settled in and played better offensively and defensively as the season has gone along. Alex Rodriguez is credited with helping him out a lot, and it seems like he's not trying to carry the weight of being Derek Jeter's replacement anymore. He is obviously a huge upgrade over what Jeter was in his final year, and much better defensively than the Yankees have had at shortstop in quite some time. He's really fun to watch.
Who is your favorite Yankees to watch?
When A-Rod is hitting well there's no one on the team I love to see hit more. His power is incredible, and his three home run game in Minnesota is probably my favorite game of the season so far. I love watching Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury on defense because they are both so good at what they do. I also love watching Dellin Betances pitch because he was so nearly given up on as a prospect and now he's one of the best relievers in baseball. The stuff he throws is absolutely unfair.
Editor's note: SN Nation partner FanDuel runs a 1-day fantasy baseball game with real cash prizes (I won $50 one day). Today's game has $115,000 in prizes and costs just $5 to enter. It is fun and easy.