I have to preface everything I’m about to say with this: I’m not a psychologist for individuals or small groups and I generally mock those who act as if they are when they aren’t psychologists either. To wit, when fans or sportswriters refer to players and teams, grit, toughness, character, etc. I think 99.9 percent of the time it’s just because they feel they need to say something and that’s the best they can come up with. In my experience, it’s better to simply say nothing than act like the mental performance coach for a professional team or player.
Yesterday’s game really felt like one in which they would just throw in the towel, give a nod to a good streak just completed and move on to the business of beating Toronto tonight. Down 4-1 in the fifth inning on a getaway day, with only one hit at that point and with Severino not pitching well, it sure seemed like – well, I’ll just say it – it seemed like a game last year’s team would’ve just phoned in the rest of the way. I hope the armchair analysts are correct and we can take it as a sign that maybe this group has a little more fight, character, grit – whatever – than last year’s group.
All right, enough of the talk radio nonsense. There’s a game tonight and it’s a big one. Despite winning 11 out of 12 games, the Yankees only moved from one game back to 1.5 up in the standings on the Jays. Toronto is also on a hot streak having won nine of their last 12, with all of the games being against Boston and Houston, which one has to admit is impressive.
There are no secrets about the Blue Jays: They can hit, they can hit with power and they can score a lot of runs. And although the Yankees will dodge a bullet by missing ace Kevin Gausman in this series, the Blue Jays have pitched well as a team. The staff has posted the fifth-best K/BB ratio in MLB along with the sixth-best FIP. Defensively, they’ve turned batted balls into outs at about league average, so they won’t give you too much either.
32-year-old righty Ross Stripling will be on the hill for Toronto. Stripling has made two relief appearances in 2022, tonight will be his fourth start, and he’s pitched pretty well sandwiching a so-so start in between two good ones. He pitches to contact but has done a good job of generating soft contact as he ranks in the 94th percentile in average exit velocity allowed, and in the 97th percentile in hard-hit percentage. He throws a four-seamer, slider, and change and he won’t impress anybody with either velocity or movement – with him, it’s simply a matter of command.
Opposing Stripling will be Jordan Montgomery, the King of little run support. Monty has pitched well thus far in ’22 posting an average game score of 57 over his first four starts, with his only rocky outing coming on the night he was drilled in the knee by a comebacker. When Montgomery is on, he’s going to make batters chase and create weak contact – he definitely has his hands full in those regards tonight.
The first pitch from Toronto is at 7:07 PM, EDT. You can watch the game on the YES Network and stream it on MLB.tv, or listen on WFAN 101.9/660 and WADO 1280. You can follow along with me @mybaseballpage1 on Twitter and on the “My Baseball Page” on Facebook.
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