Remember when the Yankees frustratingly groveled at the Blue Jays’ collective knee, as Toronto turned Yankee Stadium into their personal playground? It happened more often than not over the past few seasons, but was most glaring at the tail end of 2021, when the Jays vaulted themselves back towards contention with a four-game sweep in the Bronx in mid-September, running roughshod over the sleepy Yankees.
No matter what city the two sides locked horns in, though, from New York to Buffalo to Dunedin, FL, there was one name screamed in anguish above all the others: Randal F***** Grichuk.
Surely, there must be some mistake. Surely, I meant to type Any Of The Jays Many F***** Good Players, considering Grichuk was only above-average in two of his four seasons in Toronto, and wrapped his career north of the border with an 87 OPS+ season in 2021.
Nah, this is no goof. Grichuk killed the Yankees like Rowdy Tellez flayed the Red Sox, smacking 17 home runs off the Bombers in 65 career games. That’s one more dinger than he’s hit in the entirety of his inter-league career.
And now … he’s gone, traded for Raimel Tapia on March 24 in by far the most joyous post-lockout transaction across the game’s wide scope.
Why is he gone, exiled to Colorado? Reasons are unclear. Perhaps … he refused … the legally-mandated vaccination, leading to a swift boot from Canada? Maybe Toronto just really valued Tapia? Maybe he wiped wing sauce all over Joe Carter’s jersey and dragged the World Series trophy around the Rogers Centre parking lot behind his car? Who can say? Regardless, he’s outta town, and the Yankees are 6-3 against the Jays so far.
Yankees beating Blue Jays because Randal Grichuk is gone
How’s Grichuk doing in Colorado? Thanks for asking. He’s hitting .281 with four bombs and a 113 OPS+, alternating above-average seasons like he usually does.
How’s Tapia doing in Toronto? Again, really appreciate the question. You’re following the exact right line of thinking for an article like this. He’s subtracted -0.4 WAR from his roster mates, hitting just .213 with a 50 OPS+.
How’s Tapia doing against the Yankees? Wow. Three for three on questions. 3-for-20 on the year. Legitimately, swapping him into the Starting 9 in Grichuk’s place may have saved the Yankees at least a loss or two in tight contests with the Jays thus far.
More importantly, though, the mojo has changed. Toronto’s seventh-best hitter is no longer lurking at the bottom of the lineup, licking his lips about the power he holds. Now, he’s a Mile High, and the 2022 Yankees are a mile higher.
Could things flip on a dime? Absolutely. The Yankees don’t see the Grichuk-less Jays again until Aug. 18 (why?!), leading to a number of key battles down the stretch. For now, though, Vlad Jr., George Springer and Bo Bichette seem to really miss their unqualified Fourth Horseman.