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Game #55 Preview: Cole vs Roark

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Yankees (31-23) vs Blue Jays (28-26)

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

After a fun win last night, the Blue Jays continue their 4 game series against the Yankees this evening. Game 2 gets underway at 6:37 EDT.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Jays are set to go with Tanner Roark tonight, and I’m not really sure he’s the one I would have gone with. The Jays have 6 starts left, with Thursday needing to be Hyun-Jin Ryu to line him up with a start next Tuesday to open the playoffs, followed by Taijuan Walker and Matt Shoemaker. That means that there is a starter today who would line up for Sunday, and then tomorrow’s starter.

We have four candidates for the “Today/Sunday” and “Tomorrow” slots: Roark (6.41 ERA/7.71 FIP as a Blue Jay), Chase Anderson (7.45/7.15), Robbie Ray (5.94/5.71) and Ross Stripling (7.36/4.46). Ray and Stripling both started Friday, so today wouldn’t work for either of them, although I would definitely go with Ray tomorrow as he has the upside and strikeout ability. As it sits right now, Roark is scheduled for today and Anderson for tomorrow. Neither are a good choice against the Yankees, and I’d much rather not have either out there, but I’d go with Anderson over Roark.

But it is Roark who will get the start today, and he will be making his 3rd straight start against the Yankees. He has thrown 8 innings in those 2 starts, allowing 8 runs on 8 hits with 5 walks and 6 home runs, striking out 7. His 2-2 record with a 6.41 ERA wouldn’t look a whole lot better without those 2 starts either, as he was 2-1 with a 5.74 ERA going into those games, still struggling with walks and strikeouts. He’s signed through next season, and that’s probably part of the reason he’s getting the start today, but we need to see improvement from him before I would be happy with him as a starter for next season.

Yankees’ Starter

Gerrit Cole will make his final start of the year before getting ready for game 1 of the playoffs, seemingly likely to be against the Twins, although that isn’t set yet. On the season, Cole is 6-3 with a 3.00 ERA, being his normal self with a lot of strikeouts (11.86 per 9 innings) combined with few walks (2.32 per 9 innings).

He is struggling with home runs more this year than in the past, which isn’t all that surprising with the juiced ball combined with his move to Yankee Stadium and the East in general. He is tied for 4th in the Majors in home runs allowed with 13 (with Stripling and Ray), right behind Roark who is tied for the Major league lead at 14 home runs allowed. Cole has thrown more than 50% more innings than the other 3, but is still allowing a lot of home runs.

Cole faced the Jays last week and was his normal dominating self. He threw 7 strong innings, allowing just 1 run on 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 8. The run scored on a wild pitch, otherwise he very well could have held the Jays off the board. It was his second consecutive start without allowing a home run, and he is finally looking like the Ace that the Yankees spent so heavily to get.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Alejandro Kirk was the biggest bright spot in the game last night with his 4-4 showing and first big league home run. It’s very tough to not have him in the lineup on a nightly basis, especially when you consider the struggles that Danny Jansen has faced this season.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s big night was also great to see, and him getting hot as we finish the season would be exceptional. With a productive Guerrero in the middle of a healthy lineup, the Jays have the ability to make a lot of noise in the playoffs.

Joe Panik and Travis Shaw were both on the bench in last night’s game, but I would expect they’ll be in the lineup tonight against Cole. The two of them, plus Randal Grichuk, are pretty much the only ones who have had many at bats against Cole. Panik is 4-12, while Shaw is 3-17 with a pair of home runs.

Yankees’ Lineup

Giancarlo Stanton has played the last 2 nights, but I think they’ll probably get him in tonight’s game again before getting him a night off as they ease in his workload.

Clint Frazier was on the bench yesterday, and I don’t really understand that move. Brett Gardner continues to draw starts in LF, and despite a recent hot streak, is hitting .207/.345/.388, which isn’t terrible, but when compared to Frazier’s .296/.410/.574 line, I’d be asking a lot of questions if I was a Yankee fan, but maybe it was just a needed off day for him.

Gary Sanchez has made a lot of starts behind the plate over the last week or so, and has started to see his bat come around since the start of the Jays’ series last week, although he is 0 for his last 8 now.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Alejandro Kirk, with his 4-4 night including a home run, gets the Monster Bat award, the first of hopefully many throughout his career.

Marco Gonzales twirled another gem last night, this time 8 shutout innings against the Astros to pick up the Pitcher of the Day award. He allowed 7 hits and a walk while striking out 6 in the Mariners’ 6-1 win. That long of a great outing also racked up the WPA, and he gets the WPA King award with a .471 mark.

Standings Watch

Current seed: 8th (unchanged from yesterday)
Games back of the Yankees for 2nd in East: 3 (-1 from yesterday)
Games back of Cleveland for 7th seed: 2 (unchanged from yesterday)
Games up on 9th: 4 (unchanged from yesterday)
Magic Number to clinch a playoff spot: 3 (-1 from yesterday)

Find the Link

Find the link between Gary Sanchez, Robinson Cano and Hideki Matsui