5 thoughts heading into Yankees – Blue Jays series

TORONTO — With the Yankees off on Monday, here’s a few thoughts heading into their three-game series with the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray will be on the mound for the Bombers from Tuesday-Thursday.

1. Jordan Montgomery didn’t do anything to deserve his demotion to Triple-A Scranton. He just happened to have minor-league options. The 24-year-old rookie southpaw has proven himself to be an unsung hero for the Bombers in 2017. But with Luis Severino emerging as an ace, he wasn’t going anywhere. By the way, Severino is the third-best starter in the AL based on WAR behind only Chris Sale and Corey Kluber. Neither were Masahiro Tanaka or CC Sabathia, who combine to make $ 47 million; Tanaka, of course, has been pitching better of late, while Sabathia, 37, has had a Renaissance Year for the most part. And both Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia were imported to start. A six-man rotation could’ve made sense to give Tanaka and Sabathia added rest, but it didn’t seem like Joe Girardi was into that. Hence Montgomery’s demotion. Who knows, maybe he’ll still play a factor. He’s certainly a nice insurance policy that most teams only wish they had.

2. So far, while it’s only been a short period of time, Brian Cashman’s recent acquisitions have come as advertised. Power arms David Robertson (9 IP, 12 K, 2.00 ERA) and Tommy Kahnle (8.2 IP, 12 K, 2.08 ERA) have helped stabilize a once beleaguered bullpen. Todd Frazier (.200/.333/.309, 2 HR, 17 K, 55 AB) has struggled some at the plate, though he’s played a fine third base. Sonny Gray (6 IP, 2 ER, 6 K) showed front-end of the rotation type stuff, while Jaime Garcia (4.2 IP, 5 ER, 4 BB) displayed rustiness, as he displayed inconsistent command.

3. Aaron Hicks (oblique) had four hits over the weekend during his minor-league rehab stint with Triple-A Scranton. Hicks told reporters that he will continue his rehab in Hartford with Double-A Trenton early this week. Given its close proximity to New York, it makes sense with Triple-A Scranton headed to Georgia. “He will play more (this) week and shortly after that maybe we’ll see him,” Joe Girardi said on Sunday. Greg Bird (ankle) also continues to progress, and is expected to hit on the field this week, with a minor-league rehab stint to follow. Should Bird make it back before the end of the year — whether that’s late August or early September — you wonder what kind of production he could give the team, assuming he’s finally healthy. The Bombers also miss Starlin Castro (hamstring), who would give them another middle-of-the-order option given the post-All-Star break struggles of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and the recent back injury to the slumping Matt Holliday. Castro hopes to start running the bases when the team returns home over the weekend. Reinforcements would be nice.

4. After how they lost on Thursday and Friday, the Yankees did really well to come away with a split against the defending AL champions in Cleveland over the weekend. How clutch were those hits by Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury? Now, the offense needs to start being more consistent and given the promising pitching staff some margin for error. The Yankees are just so much better when Aaron Judge hits homers. Granted, the Bombers do have the ability to win 2-1 or 3-2 with their bullpen depth.

5. Ronald Torreyes seems to thrive with more regular playing time, and that is what the utility man has been getting at second base of late in place of the injured Starlin Castro. Torres collected five hits in 15 at-bats during the Indians series.

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