For years, the Yankees most famed rivalry has been with the Boston Red Sox as they were two teams who would meet in the postseason, would have flaring tempers and bragging rights among the fanbase. But the only issue is over the last few years, it hasn’t felt like a typical Yankees / Red Sox rivalry. The Yankees are currently fighting for a postseason spot while the Red Sox are in the American League East cellar, and the circumstances of both teams not playing well at the same time doesn’t exactly give a ‘rivalry’ vibe.
But the biggest rival for the Yankees could be heading to the Bronx to take on the Yankees in a three game series this weekend. They added offense, added a bullpen piece, added a top starting pitcher and are currently 4.5 games in back of the Yankees in the AL East (six in the loss column). It would be none other than the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Yankees and Jays haven’t really been considered rivals, but right now both teams are fighting for first place in the AL East and they also want to both punch their ticket to the postseason without having to play a one-game win-or-go-home Wildcard matchup. But which team truly has the advantage as the two of them begin a weekend series which could push the Blue Jays back in the standings or bring the Yankees closer to reality?
— The Yankees have gotten offensive contributions from everywhere in the lineup, whether it’d be from the top (Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner), the heart of the order (Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran) or even the bottom of the order (Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew). The bulk of the Blue Jays offense comes from either Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. If the Yankees can find a way to keep those four off base, they have a better chance of stopping a potent lineup who has won five straight games. The Blue Jays would basically have to stop everyone in the Yankees lineup, and you never know who can be the hero of the day in a season like this.
— The Yankees are sending out Nathan Eovaldi, Ivan Nova and Masahiro Tanaka against R.A. Dickey, David Price and Marco Estrada. David Price was the Blue Jays top find during the trade market, but facing Price doesn’t bother the Yankees one bit: over the last two seasons, Price is 1-3 with a 7.59 ERA in six starts against the Bronx Bombers. Solving the Blue Jays pitching had never been a top concern for the Yankees before, and with the offense they have, they won’t have much difficulty solving it again.
— Both teams have a dominant bullpen, but the Yankees one-up the Blue Jays in one category: they have Dellin Betances and a closer who hasn’t blown a save entering play today. (Andrew Miller just notched his 24th save last night against the Red Sox).
— The Yankees are playing at Yankee Stadium for this three game set. The team is 31-18 at Yankee Stadium while the Blue Jays are 22-31 on the road.
On paper, it would seem the Yankees have a slight series edge, especially with home field advantage, but we shouldn’t take the Blue Jays lightly. They have surprised in the past and there is no doubt they can surprise again. We’ll just have to wait and see how these three games play out.