The New York Yankees have two weeks remaining on the regular season schedule and maintain an 8.5-game lead in first place in the American League East. The Yankees have clinched a playoff spot, and will gun for the division title; however, a tough series awaits them.
This week brought us some romantic moments for the Yankees, as Aaron Judge launched dinger No. 60, which was followed by an electric walk-off grand slam off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton. New York snagged a much-needed 9-8 win against the Pirates as the Bronx shook due to the decibel levels.
This was followed by a massive 14-2 victory the next night to complete the two-game sweep, and continued to win 3 straight against Boston. The Yanks will see the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers over the coming weeks.
However, which is going to be the series to watch? The one that will be taking place north of the border.
The Bombers have to play the Blue Jays in Toronto for a three-game set starting Monday, Sept. 26.
Yankees-Blue Jays matchup will hold weight in 2022 playoff implications
The Yankees will fly to the “Six” with the Blue Jays in the rearview mirror at the moment, behind the Yanks in the AL East. But head-to-head results in this series can lengthen or reduce the gap between these two clubs. Furthermore, along with the rest of their schedule, these are crucial games for Toronto in the Wild Card race. Toronto was only 4.5 games back of first-place at one point, before a brief slide of defeat which has created a more comfortable journey for New York.
The Jays are up two and a half games for the top spot above the Rays and Mariners, meaning Toronto will have to rely on their powerful offense to ensure they can hold on over the next few weeks. Wasn’t that what everyone expected heading into the year, anyway?
The Blue Jays have scored 58 runs in their last 10 games (but not much to show for it with a 5-5 record) and currently lead Major League Baseball in batting average with a .261 mark. Although no player in the Toronto lineup batting .300 or more at the moment, the heavy hitters have slowly been waking up.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is batting .266 so far on the year, and in the last 15 games, he has recorded three home runs, 8 RBI. Throw in Matt Chapman’s three home runs and 9 RBI in the last 15 as well as George Springer’s four HRs, 13 RBI, and 15 hits in the last 15 games, and you can see the impact. This team can be extremely dangerous offensively, despite a short-lived silence from the core bats.
In the month of September, the Yankees have hit 36 home runs and driven in 110 RBI, with Aaron Judge being the usual major contributor. The offense will need to be on point, especially against arms such as Alek Manoah, who’s been strong on the mound, striking out 27 Yankees hitters this season. Kevin Gausman and Jose Berrios are also arms that have the capability to go deep into games.
Just under a year ago, the Blue Jays were in a similar position, where a series against the Yankees in Toronto held major weight regarding their wild card hopes. With a rough Hyun-Jin Ryu outing in Sept. of 2021, the Blue Jays eventually went on to lose the three-game set, ultimately ruining their playoff hopes.
With the Yankees expecting to win the American League East and the Blue Jays expecting to secure the first wild card spot, these two teams can very well be the 2022 American League Divisional Series matchup. September’s showdown in Toronto may be a sneak peek of what’s to come. Both teams may want to use this final regular season matchup to learn more about their possible postseason dance partner.