Pre-Series Notes: Kikuchi moved to the pen, Zimmer claimed by the Phillies

Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Ony
1 year ago
A six run seventh inning allowed the Blue Jays to avoid the sweep and keep them in a wild card spot yesterday. They now head to New York for the next four games. At 62-54 they are tied for the second wild card with the Tampa Bay Rays and sit 1.5 games back of the Seattle Mariners for the first wild card. The playoff race is the tightest it has been all season with 6 teams within 3.5 games battling for three spots.
The Yankees had an all-time great regular season win yesterday. Former American League MVP Josh Donaldson hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the tenth to give the Yankees an 8-7 win over the Rays. Donaldson joined Babe Ruth and Jason Giambi as the only Yankees to hit a walk-off grand slam while down by three runs.
Both teams come into this series with only three wins in their last ten. The Yankees lead the American League East by ten games with a record of 73-45. The Yankees lead the season series against the Blue Jays 8-4.

Things Worth Mentioning…

Yusie Kikuchi has finally been moved to the bullpen. Mitch White will fill his role in the rotation.
While this helps the rotation, there is still a hole in the bullpen where a long reliever should be. With both Ross Stripling and White starting every five days they lack an arm that can give them multiple quality innings out of the pen.
Kikuchi is also the only left-hander in the bullpen currently. Tim Mayza will hopefully be returning soon.
The question is why haven’t they called up Matt Gage? This team has desperately needed left-handed arms all season and Gage has dominated triple-A with an ERA of 1.20 in 30 innings.
The Bradley Zimmer experiment in Toronto has come to an end.
Zimmer provided quality defence and speed for the Jays this season but could never figure it out at the plate. With the new acquisitions of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Whit Merrifield he was finally expendable. He should find a role temporarily with the Phillies as Bryce Harper remains out and Brandon Marsh was just added to the 10-day IL.

The head-to-head…

Frankie Montas vs. Jose Berrios
Acquired with Lou Trevino earlier this season from the Oakland Athletics for four prospects, Montas hasn’t lived up to expectations during his short time as a Yankee. In two starts he has allowed eight runs in eight innings on ten hits and five walks. On the season he has an ERA of 3.59 in 21 starts. He is a strikeout pitcher who averages 9.2 per nine innings this season. He hasn’t pitched against the Blue Jays in 2022.
Berrios pitched incredibly well through the month of July, but he is back to his inconsistent form in August. In his last two starts he has allowed a whopping 13 runs in 7.2 innings including four home runs. Among qualified pitchers his 5.61 ERA is now the worst in the majors.
Despite the poor statistics, Berrios hasn’t been completely terrible this year. He has thrown 11 quality starts in his 23 outings, one less than Kevin Gausman. The problem is you never know which Berrios is going to show up. He has proven he can pitch at an elite level this year but there is no middle ground. When he’s bad, it’s really bad.
Jameson Taillon vs. Kevin Gausman
Taillon’s season stats don’t jump off the page, yet he manages to consistently win ball games. His 3.95 ERA is fifth among Yankees starters, but his 11 wins are first. He hasn’t been off to the best start in August posting a 5.44 ERA in three games.
A matchup against the Jays might be perfect for him to get back on track. In three starts against the Blue Jays in 2022 he’s allowed only three runs in 17 innings while striking out 16 and winning all three.
Fresh off his first American League Player of the Week award Gausman struggled against the Cleveland Guardians in his last start. He failed to get through five innings and gave up a season high nine hits and five runs.
He pitched well in against the Yankees back on April 14th allowing 2 runs in 5.2 innings and striking out 9. However, it wasn’t enough, the Jays were shutout 3-0.
Gerrit Cole vs. Mitch White
After a rough three start stretch from July 23rd to August 3rd the Yankees’ ace is back to his Cy Young caliber form. He pitched 13 innings combined in his last two games giving up just one run and striking out 14. He leads the Yankees in innings pitched (144.1), FIP (3.21) and WAR (3.0).
His lone start against the Jays was on April 13th where Vladdy Guerrero Jr. hit two of his three home runs on the day off him. Cole was credited with a no-decision after 5.2 innings and three earned runs.
With Kikuchi being demoted to the bullpen, White is now firmly in the Blue Jays rotation. His 3.86 ERA in his two starts with the Jays are slightly above his season average of 3.72. He hasn’t been perfect, but he has shown he can be a reliable back-end starter. With the AL wild card race as tight as it is, White needs to continue to pitch well. Every game from here on out will be important in the standings.
Nestor Cortes vs. Alek Manoah
If it wasn’t for the Aaron Judge hitting home runs at a historic pace, there is an argument to be made for Cortes to be the Yankees’ MVP this season. An all-star for the first time in 2022, he leads Yankees starters with an ERA of 2.74 and WHIP of 0.98.
In his two starts against the Jays this year he has only thrown a total of 8.1 innings while giving up seven hits and walking four. He has also only allowed two runs.
At one point Manoah was the most dominant pitcher in the Blue Jays rotation but lately that hasn’t been the case. He has an ERA of 5.32 over his last four starts, well above his season average of 2.71. He looked great for four plus innings against the Baltimore Orioles in his last start and then fell apart in the fifth after giving up back-to-back home runs. Ultimately, he was charged for four runs in the loss.
He’s seen the Yankees three times this year going 1-1 with an ERA of 2.63.

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