Just when the Toronto Blue Jays might think they have seen everything in this compacted season, along comes a pitcher they have never faced in New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom.
The right-hander, who is 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA, will oppose Blue Jays right-hander Chase Anderson (0-0, 4.94) in the opener of a three-game series at Buffalo on Friday night.
Both teams had Thursday off. The Blue Jays (24-19) lost 7-2 to the New York Yankees on Wednesday to complete a stretch of 28 games in 27 days with an 18-10 record.
The Blue Jays are second in the American League East, four games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays and two games ahead of the third-place Yankees. The Blue Jays are poised to make their first postseason appearance since 2016.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo was impressed with how his team handled their recent schedule.
“Other teams would just take a day or night off,” Montoyo said. “It’s just too much, too many games. This team hasn’t taken a day off. They go hard every game. I’m impressed by it, and I’m proud of the way they play every day. They don’t give up.”
The Mets (20-24) defeated the Baltimore Orioles 7-6 on Wednesday and are two games behind in the race for a National League wild-card spot.
“Now that we’re hitting our groove and hitting our stride, I think we are going to be scary to deal with coming down the stretch here,” said Pete Alonso, who hit a home run for the Mets on Wednesday. “We’re fighting for a playoff berth. This team hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2016, so we want to make it happen.”
Although the Blue Jays have not faced deGrom as a team, they have five players who have faced the National League Cy Young Award winner the past two seasons.
Randal Grichuk and Travis Shaw are both batting .375 in eight at-bats apiece against deGrom. Grichuk has two solo homers against him. Caleb Joseph, Joe Panik and Jonathan Villar also have hit against deGrom.
Anderson is 2-2 with a 3.93 ERA in seven career starts against the Mets.
The Mets will start deGrom on his regular four days’ rest as days off in the schedule allow them to shorten their rotation to four starters. They do not need a fifth starter until Sept. 19 when they play the Atlanta Braves.
Mets manager Luis Rojas wouldn’t rule out a four-man rotation.
“Right now we’re with five, (but) we can definitely talk about it, reassess, see if it’s something that is going to change,” Rojas said.
That could mean Michael Wacha, who has a 7.50 ERA in six starts, could be moved to the bullpen. That would leave a rotation of deGrom, Seth Lugo, David Peterson and Rick Porcello for the next four games.
Rojas has already said deGrom will pitch every fifth day, regardless of rotation alignment.
Injuries continue to be a factor. The Mets have lost pitcher Robert Gsellman with a fractured rib.
The Blue Jays put first baseman Rowdy Tellez (right knee strain) on the injured list Wednesday. However, shortstop Bo Bichette (right knee sprain), who has been on the IL since Aug. 16, could return during the series against the Mets.
“It’s not fair to ask him to do so much because he’s missed so much time, but if somebody can do it, it’s Bo Bichette,” Montoyo said.
–Field Level Media