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Jays vs Yankees Series Preview

courtesy of Boston Wolverine

Carlos Villanueva will be making a spot start for the injured Jesse Litsch to open the series in New York. While Villanueva has been fantastic as the Jays long-relief man, one has to question the decision by John Farrell with seemingly more than a few choices at his disposal. The Jays are 23-23 (2.5 games back of the division lead) at the moment and have consistently preached about the 2011 season being one of player development. In that case, wouldn’t it make sense to give a spot start to someone like Brad Mills who has been fantastic in AAA Vegas, or Zach Stewart who is looking to make his major league debut? In what better place to test someone’s mettle than the cauldron that is Yankee Stadium.

The Jays have relied heavily on their bullpen this season and Villanueva especially. He’s already logged over 24 innings because of the inability of Jays starters to go deep into games. In fact, it’s the much maligned Jo-Jo Reyes (who will be looking to avoid a major league-tying 28th consecutive start without a win in the series finale) who has reached at least the 7th inning more times than any other starter. With the potency of the Yankees lineup (despite their recent struggles) if a starter gets knocked out of the game early then an already fatigued bullpen will be asked to shoulder even more of the load. However, with Romero set to pitch the next game, and a history of success in Yankee Stadium, and the seemingly more consistent Jo-Jo Reyes perhaps these issues are not too worrisome.

The real issue at hand is if Villanueva has a great start and it prompts Alex Anthopoulos to place him in the rotation then the bullpen (which has been one of the best in the league) will have to be shuffled around. It just seems that one of the few strengths that the Jays have had this year could be left alone, and a young arm like Mills or Stewart could benefit from the opportunity to throw a game in Yankee Stadium.

Categories: Toronto Blue Jays
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