Quick hit: The Most Important Series of the Season (Until the Next One)

With twenty-four games left in the season, the Yankees sit a slim 1.5 games behind the first-place Blue Jays. This four-game set represents a chance not only for the Yankees to turn the tide, but also an opportunity for our neighbors to the North to build a far more comfortable lead. The stakes are incredibly high, to say the least. Since the last time the teams met (with the Yankees taking two of three), the Blue Jays have gone 14-6 with a plus-52 run differential (138 runs scored against 86 allowed). They enter tonight having dropped two of three to the last place Red Sox, in a series in which they were outscored 22 to 9. However, the two starters that were drubbed in that series (the struggling Merssrs Drew Hutchison and Mark Buehrle) will not be taking the mound for the Blue Jays this time around.

The Blue Jays offense has remained dominant, with usual suspects Edwin Encarnacion (.342/.420/.795), Josh Donaldson (.397/.446/.782), and Jose Bautista (.282/.422/.563) tearing the cover off of the ball since these teams last met. The pitching staff has been a bit up and down of late, but David Price has been his usual ace-y self (7+ IP per start, 2.15 ERA, 10+ K/9), and wunderkind Marcus Stroman is returning from an ACL tear this weekend.

In sum ... not much has changed. The return of Stroman is undoubtedly a big deal, yet this is largely the same group that the Yankees faced from August 14 through August 16. And, unless you believe that the Yankees taking that series was a fluke, there's little reason to suspect that they cannot do it again.

Here are the pitching match-ups: Today - Luis Severino vs. David Price Friday - Ivan Nova vs. Marco Estrada Saturday - Michael Pineda vs. Marcus Stroman Sunday - Masahiro Tanaka vs. R.A. Dickey