The Toronto Blue Jays dropped a pretty important game against the New York Yankees yesterday, losing 7-2 and falling 1.0 game out of the Wild Card standings while also seeing the Seattle Mariners jump ahead of them to be 0.5 games back behind the Boston Red Sox who occupy the second spot.
With the Red Sox losing to Baltimore yesterday, the Yankees now have a 2.0 game lead in the Wild Card and Boston is now on the bubble. It is no secret that the Blue Jays need a win in the worst way not only tonight but most likely three or four wins at least over the next five games to stand a chance of keeping themselves in the hunt for meaningful October baseball.
Tonight the Jays play the Yankees in the second game of the three-game series and will be facing their ace in Gerrit Cole, a right-handed flamethrower who is once again in the conversation for the AL Cy Young award alongside Blue Jays southpaw Robbie Ray.
Cole’s 3.08 ERA is second in the AL as well as his strikeouts (237) and opponents’ batting average (.218) falling behind Ray while both pitchers are tied in terms of WHIP (1.04). The four-time all-star has never won the Cy Young before and the Blue Jays will be looking to spoil his chances this evening at the Rogers Centre.
After the loss to the Yankees yesterday, the Blue Jays will be facing their ace in Gerrit Cole, a tough yet beatable opponent.
The Yankees ace is going to be a tough customer on the mound but he is beatable, as evidence by his eight losses on the season.
He has also not pitched well as of late, surrendering 10 earned runs over his last two outings against the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, allowing three home runs in the process while striking out 13 batters against four walks. He also gave up seven earned runs back on July 29th against the Tampa Bay Rays and was hit around by Boston again on June 27th to the tune of five runs. In other words, teams have hit against him and with success.
Cole has faced the Blue Jays three times this season and has pitched the following lines:
April 2nd: 6.0 IP; 1 ER; 0 home runs; 3 hits; 1 walk; 8 strikeouts
June 16th: 8.0 IP; 2 ER; 2 home runs; 4 hits; 1 walk; 4 strikeouts
September 7th (left game with an injury): 3.2 IP; 2 ER; 1 home run; five hits; 2 walks; 2 strikeouts
For his career against the Jays, Cole has made eight starts and features a 2.81 ERA through 48.0 innings pitched with 53 strikeouts and eleven walks. He has not made a start at the Rogers Centre, only at TD Ballpark in Dunedin and Shalen Field in Buffalo.
The right-hander does have two good starts against the Jays this season but the club will be looking to capitalize just like Cleveland did and find a way to put runs on the board and buck the trend he has set against the Blue Jays for his career.
They will need to be patient at the plate but also be looking for his upper 90s fastball, as the batters will need to find hits throughout the lineup and will need to put up more than the four they did yesterday. A fastball that sits in the high 90’s can travel a long way when there is solid contact but the lineup will also have to be wary of his plus off-speed pitches, as he does boast a 3.08 ERA for a reason.
What may help the Blue Jays tonight is that Cole has not faced the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre this season and if he struggles early, I would think the crowd will be giving him an absolute earful. One hopes that the Jays can put yesterday’s loss behind them and try and find a way to get to Cole early and out of the game as quickly as possible.
Opposite Cole will be Jose Berrios, who is pitching well for the Blue Jays this season to the tune of a 3.50 ERA through eleven starts and will need to have a quality start if the team wants to not only win tonight but also continue staying relevant in the postseason hunt.
Tonight’s game should be a doozy and while Gerrit Cole is a very good pitcher, he is beatable and will give up the earned runs if the Blue Jays can find a way to capitalize on his mistakes and lay off the plus off-speed pitches.
Otherwise, it may be strikeout city in Toronto tonight and possibly another game back in an already tight Wild Card race.