After putting the brooms away from their series sweep of the Rays, the Yankees are north of the border this weekend to take on their AL East Division rival, the Toronto Blue Jays. Given the way that the two teams have been playing lately, it certainly isn’t going to be boring.
Despite taking one on the chin yesterday from the Orioles, the Blue Jays have been scalding hot. Entering action on May 24th, Toronto was only two games over .500 and seven games out of first place. Since then, they’ve won 15 of their last 21 and are 37-26 overall – a 95-win pace – but have dropped to 10 games back (Damn Yankees!) Their Simple Rating System from Baseball-Reference, which is based on run differential and strength of schedule, has them ranked as the second-best team in the AL.
The secret to their recent streak isn’t much of a secret at all, as they’ve been obliterating baseballs more so than any team in MLB since May 24th – yes, even more than the Yankees. Since then, the Jays lead MLB in runs scored, batting average, and OBP, and are second in SLG, all of which lead to a ridiculous 158 team wRC+ which also leads MLB over that span.
As you would expect, production like that only happens with a team effort and Toronto sure has had that. Since May 24th they’ve had 10 players with at least 50 plate appearances and Santiago Espinal’s 126 wRC+ is the lowest. (For perspective, Anthony Rizzo has a 129 wRC+ on the season and Gleyber Torres’ is 121.) The most impressive batter during their hot streak has been catcher/DH Alejandro Kirk who’s posted an absurd 242 wRC+ over their last 21 games. Due respect to Jose Trevino, Kirk has been the best catcher in the AL so far in 2022.
Toronto’s pitching hasn’t been as dominant as its hitting over their last 21 games but it’s been very good. Over that span, the staff has posted the fourth-best SIERA, fifth-highest K-BB%, and sixth-lowest xFIP. If there’s a soft spot, it’s that opposing batters have been able to elevate the ball against them as their ground ball rate is 18th in MLB since May 24th and their home runs per nine innings is 14th. The Yankees, as you likely know, are very good at elevating the ball.
Particularly good for the Jays of late has been Ross Stripling, who the Bombers will see tonight. In his last two starts, Stripling has thrown 11 combined scoreless innings while allowing only two hits and posting Game Scores of 67 and 74.
Tonight: Jordan Montgomery vs. Ross Stripling, 7:07 PM
Saturday: Jameson Taillon vs. Alek Manoah, 3:07 PM
Sunday: Gerrit Cole vs. Yusei Kikuchi, 1:37 PM
All three games can be seen on the YES Network or streamed on MLB.tv. WFAN 101.9/660 will have the radio broadcasts, and as always, follow along with me @mybaseballpage1 on Twitter and the “My Baseball Page” on Facebook.
No need to be courteous to our courteous neighbors from Canada, Yanks – let’s get two of three.
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