Blue Jays have to kick the Yankees while they’re down

Sep 5, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) celebrates after scoring against the Oakland Athletics during the fourth inning with teammate shortstop Marcus Semien (10) at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 5, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) celebrates after scoring against the Oakland Athletics during the fourth inning with teammate shortstop Marcus Semien (10) at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Blue Jays have a huge opportunity this week against the New York Yankees, who have lost six of their last eight games, including their last two against the lowly Baltimore Orioles.

Even if it’s all but impossible to measure, momentum is an important factor in baseball and it’s very much in favour of the Blue Jays right now after they just swept the Oakland A’s over the weekend.

The offence finally woke up after struggling for most of the back half of August by scoring 29 runs over the three games with the A’s. It was actually an even smaller timeframe when you look a little closer, as the Blue Jays scored six runs with two out in the 8th inning on Friday and three more in the ninth without recording an out. That’s nine runs scored while the A’s recorded just one out. Add the 10 more they scored on Saturday and the seven more by the third inning on Sunday, and they scored 26 runs over 12.1 innings.

That kind of production is coming at the perfect time at this stage as the Blue Jays are fighting to stay alive in the Wild Card race. After gaining a game on most of their competition on Sunday, the Jays are just 4.5 games behind the Yankees, and 4.0 back of the Red Sox, the two teams currently in the Wild Card positions. The Blue Jays started the weekend in 5th place in a 5-team race, and are now tied for 4th with the A’s (but are ahead in tiebreakers) and just a game behind the Mariners.

More from Jays Journal

As well as things are going for the Blue Jays right now, they also need to take advantage of the fact that the Yankees are going through a rough patch. For a while it looked like the Red Sox were going to be the team that the Jays would have to catch, but the last week has closed a few gaps and the schedule makes a run at the Yankees more realistic because of the seven head to head games left between the two clubs.

On top of the Yankees struggling a bit, they also suffered a big blow with the news that Jonathan Loaisiga will likely miss most or all of the rest of the regular season with a rotator cuff strain. The Yankees have said that he won’t throw for at least 10 days, and it’s hard to say how long it will take him to get ready to re-join the team once he can.

If you haven’t been following the Yankees that closely this season, it’s a bigger deal than you may realize. Loaisiga has been one of the best relievers in all of baseball in 2021, and he’s been a huge reason for the Yankees’ success this year. He hits the IL with a 2.25 ERA and a 1.029 WHIP over 54 appearances that covered 68.0 innings. The right-hander been used as a primary set-up man, and a valuable arm that can throw multiple innings.

The Yankees also lost Zack Britton for the year from the back of their bullpen, which means that they’re going to need to lean even more heavily on guys like Aroldis Chapman and Chad Green. The problem there is that both pitchers haven’t performed to their usual standards this season, with Chapman carrying a 3.72 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP, which will be his worst marks of his career if they hold up. Green’s numbers still look solid enough across the whole season, but he’s been a little shakier of late and will now have to take on a bigger role in Loaisiga’s absence.

Next. Tony Fernandez's number should be retired in Toronto. dark

With four games to play this week and three more at the end of the month, the Blue Jays’ best chance of making the playoffs is right in front of their noses with four games against the Yankees. They’re well set up for success given all that’s going on at the moment, and hopefully they can kick the Yankees while they’re down and take advantage.

facebooktwitterreddit