The New York Yankees have another huge series with the Toronto Blue Jays this week. Another chance to prove themselves.
The Yankees entered their first matchup with the Blue Jays in Buffalo last weekend bewildered, bent and battered, having just dropped three of four with the Orioles in Baltimore.
They’d followed essentially the same formula in every one of their recent devastating losses — take a lead, give the lead back, fumble and fold — and were barely in the playoff picture.
Game 1 of the Jays series was, wildly enough, more of the same and worse than ever before. A 6-2 lead in the sixth inning became 12-6 Jays by the end of the bludgeoning, and Game 2 was a feckless offensive effort to back a sterling JA Happ outing. Two tries, two losses. Luke Voit went public in announcing his dismay with himself and his teammates. Nothing was remotely good.
But the third contest was entirely different. New York parlayed clutch hits and an incredible Deivi Garcia effort into a 7-2 win, and rebounded in an all-important series against the O’s at home to look a lot more like contenders than they had at any point in the past month.
On Tuesday, Toronto arrives in the Bronx. Seven of the Yankees’ final 13 games come against the team they’re chasing in the AL East, and even though things seem a bit more settled now, the Yanks have plenty to prove in this three-game set.
3. Rotation Must Look Playoff-Ready
The Yankees have set up their rotation for the series, and they have to deliver.
The last time the Yanks faced off with the Jays, they had just attempted to deploy Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka in an effort to bury the Baltimore Orioles and failed miserably.
Both pitchers lost their starts, with Cole’s outing serving as a perfect microcosm of what the Yankees were going through at the time. He looked unflappably dominant through the game’s first half, before a DJ Stewart home run pricked his balloon, and an error by Thairo Estrada opened the flood-iest of floodgates.
After that strategy failed, the team limped into Toronto without anything set up the way they probably would’ve preferred it to be. Jordan Montgomery and JA Happ got the first two games of the season’s biggest series, and young Deivi Garcia had Game 3, forced into a stopper role after Monty struggled and Happ got let down by his offense.
This time? The Yankees got to do things on their terms. Garcia will get a second opportunity to face off with this roster and attempt to prove he can repeat his dominance, and he’ll be followed up by Cole and Tanaka, thanks in part to last week’s rainout against Baltimore.
That should be the postseason rotation if the Yanks advance to the Wild Card series, and all three men have to prove that they’re in top form as October approaches. These are the teams you need to beat. After an encouraging week, a beastly follow-up would go a long way.