Masahiro Tanaka (3-2, 3.27 ERA) vs. Robbie Ray (2-5, 7.17 ERA)
The New York Yankees bounced back with a monster performance on Tuesday night after struggling Monday. The Blue Jays were 11-5 winners on Monday, but the Yankees brought their top game yesterday. A 2-run 1st inning set the tone for how the rest of the game would go. The Yankees piled on 10 more runs to secure a 12-1 victory.
Tanner Roark survived past that inning, but ran into a lot of trouble a few frames later. Roark ultimately left the game with 7 hits and 4 earned runs through 4.1 innings. It was another poor start by Roark. With what he’s done, it’s unlikely the Blue Jays can stick with him in the rotation in the postseason, if they do get in. While that was an ugly game for the Jays, they’re in the postseason as of today.
The Blue Jays would be playing the Tampa Bay Rays in the first round at the Trop. Thanks to injuries to the Yankees, the Rays are on the cusp of winning the AL East. Let’s not take anything away from the Rays, though. They’re a 36-20 team and rightly deserve the divisional crown. Nothing was handed to them, though it was a lot easier without a healthy Yankees squad bothering them.
I don’t know if many people believe that the Rays are the best team in the AL East. They are leading the division, but most are going to have the Rays ahead of them when it comes to the postseason. If the postseason started today, the Twins would be hosting the Yankees at Target Field in the first round. Despite being the road team, the Yankees would be the favorites in that series.
Gerrit Cole was in fine form on Tuesday night. He cut down the Blue Jays through 7 innings, and now Masahiro Tanaka hopes to do the same tonight. Tanaka has been up and down throughout his career, but has been strong in this shortened campaign. We’ll see if he holds up in October.
His play in the playoffs might be the deciding factor between the World Series and no World Series. Robbie Ray, who struggled with the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays this season, is scheduled to start for the Jays. Get our free New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays pick for September 23, 2020.
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There have been several good signs from the Yankees this season, but I think the most welcome performance has to be from Masahiro Tanaka. He came from Japan with a lot of expectations. Through years of dealing with injuries and inconsistent pitching, Tanaka hasn’t really lived up to expectations.
He recorded an ERA of 2.77 and 1.06 WHIP as a rookie in 2014. Since then, Tanaka hasn’t finished with an ERA below the 3.00 mark. Tanaka’s next best season was a 3.07 ERA two years later, which is more than acceptable. However, then wild variance developed for Tanaka, with an ERA of 4.74, 3.75, and 4.45 the next three years.
He’s been on a solid trajectory this season, though. Tanaka heads into this contest with a 3.27 ERA and 1.02 WHIP through 44 innings of work. He has been on fire on the road, with an ERA of 1.17 and 0.72 WHIP through 15.2 innings. Opposing teams are reaching base at a clip of just .196 against Tanaka when they’re home.
If Tanaka has an off night, the Yankees can probably depend on their offense versus Robbie Ray. His confidence has been shattered this season. The Blue Jays might have believed it was because he needed new scenery outside of the desert, but his struggles continue.
Ray posted an ERA of 7.84 and 2.00 WHIP with the Diamondbacks. In four appearances with the Blue Jays, he has a 5.94 ERA and 1.74 WHIP. Until Ray gets his confidence back, he’s probably not the best pitcher to back. It’s a guarantee that he will not be in the postseason rotation for the Jays, whether they make the playoffs or not. Another 11-run win is probably out of reach tonight, but another comfortable 2+ run win should be in the cards in Buffalo.