The Beast On Our Shores (Series Preview: New York Yankees (47-16) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (37-26))
What the fuck did we ever do to Ryan Mountcastle to deserve that?
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The Toronto Blue Jays got some bad, but unfortunately unexpected news this week, as it was announced that Hyun Jin Ryu had a left elbow injury and would require some variety of surgery. Dr. Neal ElAttrache has yet to determine whether Tommy John surgery to fully repair Ryu’s ulnar collateral ligament would be necessary, or if a relatively minor surgery would be sufficient. Either way, Ryu’s 2022 season is now over, and his 2023 season is also in jeopardy, depending on whether or not he gets Tommy John.
Tommy John surgery would effectively end Ryu’s tenure with the Toronto Blue Jays, which would be an absolute shame, not just because he’s a fan favourite, not just because he’s good, not just because his friendship with Alek Manoah is precious, but because of the symbolic value he holds for this franchise. While one might quibble with Ryu’s stats as a Jay, the fact of the matter is his signing heralded the true beginning of this team actively going out and getting the pieces that would (hopefully) but the Blue Jays over the top, beyond just developing talent and assembling the rest of the team piecemeal. Without Toronto shelling out for Ryu, it’s a valid question whether or not George Springer would have signed, whether Kevin Gausman would have signed, whether José Berríos would have signed an extension.
While it’s possible that Ryu has thrown his last pitch as a Blue Jay, the time for a full dissection of his time with the team can wait for an official confirmation of Tommy John, as I don’t want to will that into existence. What we can definitively say is that the Jays will be looking do add rotation depth, as now more than ever, they can’t rely on Ryu being a healthy fixture on the 40-man. To put it in more distressing terms, they are one more injury away from being forced to throw Casey Lawrence, Bowden Francis, Thomas Hatch, or Nick Allgeyer into a rotation spot. Maybe not the situation they want to be in, I will say.
They’re likely to circle higher-profile hurlers like the Reds’ Luis Castillo and the Athletics’ Frankie Montas, but it’s equally, if not more likely, that they’ll target a lower-end guy to shore out the depth and fill the middle/back of the rotation role that Ryu did.
In other injury news, Julian Merryweather has gone on the 15-day IL with a left oblique strain, the latest in a career full of ailments for the reliever. While he recovers, the Jays called up Jeremy Beasley to take over his spot in the bullpen, who twirled three innings of high-strikeout garbage time on Thursday before being optioned for a fresh arm, the aforementioned veteran right-hander Casey Lawrence.
Lawrence has a 1.77 ERA as a starting pitcher with the Buffalo Bisons this season, and he previously earned a call-up in early May, making two appearances in long relief for the Blue Jays against the Cleveland Guardians. The length of this stint will be determined by both the Jays’ need for a long reliever not named Trent Thornton, and by the current June 20 deadline for teams to limit the amount of pitchers carried to 13, upon which Dan Shulman and Pat Tabler mentioned amidst all the nothing interesting happening on Thursday, the Jays will apparently be calling up Zack Collins in place of a pitcher.
Hitter: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3)
Can’t keep the king down for long.
Honourable Mentions: Teoscar Hernández, Santiago Espinal, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Gabriel Moreno, Matt Chapman
Pitcher: Alek Manoah (8)
With this Best Bird win, Manoah’s 16th, he has officially taken over from Robbie Ray as the all-time Best Bird leader for pitchers, and has tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the all-time lead for both position players and pitchers.
I’d like to send him a plaque to generate this occasion. To make sure I have the funds to do so, and not put that money to my own nefarious uses, make sure to subscribe to Jayslam!
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Honourable Mentions: José Berríos, Adam Cimber
Best Bird Standings:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.- 3
Bo Bichette- 3
Santiago Espinal- 3
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.- 2
Alejandro Kirk- 2
Danny Jansen- 2
George Springer- 2
Teoscar Hernández- 1
Matt Chapman- 1
Zack Collins - 1 (Optioned to Triple-A)
Alek Manoah- 8
Kevin Gausman- 5
Yusei Kikuchi- 3
José Berríos- 2
Ross Stripling- 1
Jordan Romano- 1
Friday, June 17 (7 p.m. EST/5 p.m. MST)
Jordan Montgomery (2.70 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 19.2 K%, 3.8 BB%, 48.2 Groundball%)
Ross Stripling (3.14 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 20.3 K%, 4.7 BB%, 54.3 Groundball%)
Saturday, June 18 (3 p.m. EST/1 p.m MST)
Jameson Taillon (2.93 ERA, 3.15 FIP, 19.0 K%, 2.6 BB%, 44.2 Groundball%)
Alek Manoah (1.67 ERA, 2.95 FIP, 23.1 K%, 4.7 BB%, 36.8 Groundball%)
Sunday, June 19 (1:30 p.m. EST/11:30 a.m MST)
Gerrit Cole (3.33 ERA, 3.38 FIP, 30.6 K%, 6.1 BB%, 44.4 Groundball%)
Yusei Kikuchi (4.80 ERA, 5.19 FIP, 24.7 K%, 14.1 BB%, 44.5 Groundball%)
Pythagorean Record: 46-17
Season Series vs. Blue Jays: 3-6
Record since the last series vs. Blue Jays: 25-8
Last 10 games: 9-1
The worst thing about national baseball media’s fawning over the New York Yankees and their historic start to the season is that it’s almost entirely warranted.
The Yankees are on pace for a 121-41 record, the best in the history of Major League Baseball. Is that sustainable? No, but I’ve also been saying that for over a month now, so forgive me for being a little utterly terrified. There is very little in the way of discernible holes on this team. What, you want me to look for one to make you feel better? Okay fine. Joey Gallo has been bad. Aaron Hicks has been bad. Is that enough? Isiah Kiner-Falefa is exactly who we thought he was. Do you want me to tell you that Marwin González and Kyle Higashioka have been obviously bad too, or do we get the picture? This team got Matt Carpenter working somehow, I’m not going to pretend that everything meaningful isn’t going right for them.
The Yankees’ offence features hitters putting up solid seasons (D.J. LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, and race relations understander Josh Donaldson) and several who have been excellent (Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, and catcher José Treviño, who has come out of absolutely nowhere to become one of the best catchers in the American League), followed by one who has been completely out of this stratosphere.
To gloss over THAT existential terror right quick, the Yankees rotation has been elite. Gerrit Cole has somehow had the highest ERA of the five and has still been great this season, as Jordan Montgomery, Luis Severino, Jameson Taillon and that Mario-looking fuck Nestor Cortés Jr. have all been excellent to a man. Clay Holmes has become the best reliever in baseball, somehow, because of course he has. Michael King, Wandy Peralta, Ron Marinaccio, and Clarke Schmidt have each been excellent behind him, and both Miguel Castro and Lucas Luetge have also been kicking around, doing solid work.
While it’s safe to say the Jays are the best team the Yankees have faced since… The Jays, New York is still fucking scary. And they’re also frauds, send the bastards back to hell, Yusei.
Best (Healthy) Players in the Series:
Aaron Judge, Right Field/Center Field, .310/.386/.677, 196 wRC+
Clay Holmes, Relief Pitcher, 0.29 ERA, 1.64 FIP, 28.3 K%, 2.7 BB%, 82.7 Groundball%
José Treviño, Catcher, .291/.336/.476, 135 wRC+
Jameson Taillon, Starting Pitcher, 2.93 ERA, 3.15 FIP, 19.0 K%, 2.6 BB%, 44.2 Groundball%
D.J. LeMahieu, Utility Infield, .252/.339/.386, 114 wRC+