Blue Jays Schedule: Preparing for an AL East Dog Fight
At the All Star break, the Toronto Blue Jays sit at 45-46. They are 4.5 games out of the American League East and 4 games back of the Wild Card spot. With this deficit to climb, we can say they are still in the playoff picture. They’re fighting for a spot, but they’re there. That is a weird feeling for Blue Jays fans who have gone 22 years since the last taste of the playoffs. The challenge of mounting a come back is not just in the amount of games they need to make up, but the number of teams they need to jump over to get there.
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As we mentioned in our most recent episode of the Jays’ Nest Podcast, climbing the divisional ladder will be a challenge. It isn’t just about one club and the first place club. It’s more than that. 4.5 games puts the Blue Jays in 4th place in the AL East. That means there are 3 other teams to jump, assuming the Red Sox don’t do something dramatic and throw their hat in the ring. In the Wild Card race, the Blue Jays are sitting with five teams ahead of them. The top two of which will go on to claim the Wild Card spots.
Toronto Blue Jays
It is the cluster of teams near the top that makes the rest of the season an uphill battle for our favorite team. They’re going to need a big run if they’re going to hit the 90 win plateau that might mean playoff glory. It doesn’t have to be 90 wins, but that tends to be the goal to win a division. Playing 45-26 is going to be a challenge. Just looking ahead at the schedule and one gets the sense that it might be too much of a mountain to climb. If they’re going to pull off a run like this, many things need to happen for them, but they’ll need to come out swinging in order to get off to a good start.
Looking at the schedule, the Blue Jays might be facing the right teams to get on the kind of roll they’ll need to pull of a running start. After the All Star break, they’ll face the Rays for three games at home, then they’ll head out on a west coast trip to Oakland for three and Seattle for three more and wrap up with a two game set against the Phillies at home. That’s at least 8 games against teams that the Blue Jays should beat. If they can get past the Rays first.
Since a surprising early showing, the Rays have cooled off a bit to just a game above .500 and ahead of the Blue Jays. But, we can’t look past the success the Rays have had against the Blue Jays recently, including winning 7 of 10. Undoubtedly, the Blue Jays will have to deal with Chris Archer, who is coming off his worst outing ever where he was beaten by the Royals. But, it’s Chris Archer. He’s not been kind to the blue birds. And, the Rays have Matt Morre back with Jake Odorizzi. This might be a bit of a dog fight with the Blue Jays in tough.
But, if they can survive this, they’ll have a run of 8 games where they should win. There are no guarantees in baseball, but if you look at the stretch of 8 games, the Blue Jays could make up some ground. The Athletics are struggling at 9 games under .500. The Mariners are not much better at 7 games under. The Phillies…are the Phillies. They’re 33 games under .500. 33! And, at 21 games out, they are just the kind of team the Blue Jays need to face. Yes, this is MLB and there will be challenges. The Athletics could send Sonny Gray to the mound. The Mariners could send Felix Hernandez. The Phillies could start Cole Hamels (if he’s still on the club). There are no sure bets and no team presents a cake walk. That said, this is the time in the schedule where we say “These are the teams you should beat”.
And, the Blue Jays will need all the wins they can muster now. If we look ahead to the schedule in September, it gives an ominous feeling. The Blue Jays face AL East opponents a lot. A lot! In total, there are 23 games against division rivals. This includes finishing the season with 12 straight. In total, the Blue Jays will play the Yankees 7 times, the Rays 3 times, the Orioles 6 times and the Red Sox 6 times. This is a tough way to end a season.
Looking at the schedule would suggest an ugly uphill battle for the Toronto Blue Jays. There is a lot of opportunity early to add wins to their record. And, they’ll need them by the end of the season. As of right now, it appears a daunting task. And whether this supports the idea of trading for reinforcements is open for debate. Regardless, if the Blue Jays are going to be playing meaningful baseball in September, they’ll need to come out of the All Star break ready. They need to get off to a good start if they hope to end on a happy note.
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