3. Yankees vs. Blue Jays: Berrios/Gausman/Manoah > Robbie Ray
Let’s face it: the Toronto Blue Jays are already plenty scary.
In fact, in parsing out the results of the 2021 season, we still can’t figure out how they weren’t able to outflank the Yanks, especially as the Bombers gave them every chance in the world to power past them.
Somehow, whenever it came to be nut-cutting time, though, the Jays faltered and the Yankees survived. Robbie Ray had a chance to flip the Wild Card at home to end the season, and he fell victim to a home run barrage. At their lowest point in the season, the Yanks somehow went to Buffalo and three-game swept Toronto, with Aroldis Chapman pulling a great escape, Giancarlo Stanton hitting a series-flipping homer, and Michael King inducing a triple play.
If not for some wonderful theatrics, we’d be writing formally about New York having to catch up to Vlad Jr., Bo Bichette and Co. instead of just theorizing they might have to.
Toronto’s terrifying lineup isn’t going to be getting any noteworthy farm system reinforcements, and may lose an ounce of oomph after letting Marcus Semien go to the Texas Rangers in their wild free agent sprawl. They also lost Ray, and it’s difficult to argue they’re going to benefit from letting the 2021 Cy Young winner go, but … he also had the gumption to peak immediately before free agency. Genius!
Ray, who’s struggled with command and control all his life — and also collapsed in the most important start of the year against the Yankees — reduced his WHIP to 1.045 last season after it hovered in the mid-1.3s in 2018 and 2019, reaching the hilarious small-sample-size total of 1.897 in 2020.
Perhaps Ray has turned a corner for good, and will be the most fearsome left-hander in baseball for the next five seasons with the Seattle Mariners. Or, perhaps, the Jays made the intelligent decision to instead extend Jose Berrios, sign Kevin Gausman and plug Alek Manoah into the rotation after a promising 2021 cameo.
We’d bet on the latter. Toronto’s pitching looks more fearsome, and deeper, in 2022 and beyond.