Pennant Race Moves North for 3 in Toronto

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The Yankees begin their final road trip of the regular season tonight at Rogers Centre in Toronto for the start of a three-game set with the Blue Jays. The Yankees are 6-7 versus the Jays in 2017, the only divisional rival with a winning record against New York. The pinstripes will meet Toronto again next weekend at home to close out the season, but there is no margin for error as their pursuit of Boston for the division lead is running out of time. The Blue Jays will ultimately have a say in how the pennant race plays out — with six games against New York and three games against Boston (in Fenway) starting on Monday.

Wednesday, September 22, 2017 @ Toronto Blue Jays

Key Stats At-A-Glance

Money Line : Jays +168, Yankees -175
Over/Under : 8.5
Line Moves : Late spondooliks coming in on New York
Park Factors : Rogers Centre is regarded as a pitcher’s park.
Weather : 70°, clear skies, Wind calm, 0% chance of rain (roof is open).

Trends

  • As a home underdog Toronto is 12-7, 63.2% winning percentage which is second best in MLB.
  • The Yankees are 4-12 in their last 16 games at Rogers Centre (aka House of Horrors North).
  • Toronto is 28-39 against AL East divisional opponents (41.8% winning percentage, 3rd worst in MLB.

Marco Estrada vs The Yankees

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Marco Estrada ($6,000) : After Blue Jays ace Marcus Stroman, Estrada is the workhorse of their rotation, with 31 starts and 176.2 innings pitched this season. The right-hander (9-8, 4.84 ERA and 1.36 WHIP) has faced the Yankees three times so far in 2017, getting knocked around in each of his starts in The Bronx (in June and July), but tossed seven shutout innings against New York at Rogers Centre on August 10th, scattering five hits and striking out six in a 4-0 Toronto win, and out-dueling Sonny Gray in the process.
Yankee hitting coaches Alan Cockrell and Marcus Thames would be wise to cue up video of Estrada’s change-up. In addition to his 90MPH four-seam fastball, Estrada relies heavily on a circle change grip (high 70s) — I’ve seen him throw it 6 times in a row — that results in a bunch of swings and misses.
Estrada is 2-0 in September over three starts (20.1 innings) with a 1.80 ERA, including a no-decision 7 inning outing at Boston, and home wins over Baltimore and Minnesota.
Here’s who we like in today’s lineup.

  • Aaron Judge ($5,600) : Judge is definitely seeing the ball better, hitting .348, with 4 home runs and 11 RBI over his last seven games.
  • Gary Sanchez ($5,100) : In almost every game Aaron Judge has homered in September, Sanchez hammers one, too. Over his last seven games, The Kracken is hitting .333, with 2 homers and 5 RBI.
  • Didi Gregorius ($4,900) : Didi is on fire, raking with a .320 BA over his last seven, including 4 home runs, 11 RBI and adding some lights out glove work at shortstop.

Masahiro Tanaka vs The Toronto Blue Jays

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Masahiro Tanaka ($10,600) : Tanaka has not fared well on the road this season — with a 4-6 record, 6.14 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. It gets even uglier on turf, where he’s 0-2 in three starts with a 13.97 ERA. That includes his Opening Day start in Tampa where he was scorched for 7 ER in 2.2 innings, and again in the Tropicana House of Horrors on May 20th when he gave up 6 ER over three innings, including 3 home runs.
Tanaka relies mainly on his splitter and slider (each in the mid-80s), a 90MPH sinker and occasional four-seam fastball (90MPH). When he’s on, both the split and sinker result in numerous casualties among the worm population. If either pitch stays up consistently, the long ball will happen.
The right-hander is 2-1 in September with home victories over the Red Sox and Orioles, and taking a loss in Texas after allowing 7 earned runs over 4 innings.
Here’s who Tanaka needs to be careful with in the Blue Jays’ lineup:

  • Josh Donaldson ($4,500) : After an inconsistent 2017 campaign, the Toronto third-baseman has been getting it dialed in at the plate lately. Over the past seven games, he raking at a .429 clip with 5 home runs and 7 RBI.

 
Upon completion of this series, the Yankees will return home for the remaining seven games of the season. A make-up game on Monday against the Kansas City Royals, a three-game set against Tampa, then closing the regular season out against these Toronto Blue Jays.
 
THE FINE PRINT : The fantasy lineup suggestions are purely speculation and should not be taken as gospel. Anything can and will happen in a baseball game, but this content is designed to provide a starting point for your lineup research. Best of luck, and let’s go Yankees!

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