The Blue Jays may not be in the playoff hunt, but they have something to play for with a chance to dash the Tampa Bay Rays’ playoff hopes this weekend.
I can imagine that by the time you get to the end of a 162 game regular season, especially one that you’ve been out of the playoff race all year, that it could be a little more difficult to find the same motivation in the final weeks.
However, the Blue Jays have something to play for this weekend as they put the finishing touches on the 2019 campaign, as their opponents in the Tampa Bay Rays are still fighting for a Wild Card spot to qualify for this year’s postseason. It might sound like a small thing, but keeping a division rival from the playoffs is a worthwhile endeavour, and the Blue Jays should definitely put their best foot forward.
As of this writing, the Rays are currently ahead of the Cleveland Indians by 1.0 game for the second wild card spot, and are tied with the Oakland A’s, who hold the other WC position (before play concluded on Wednesday evening).
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It’s going to take Cleveland and Oakland winning a few games this weekend as well, but if the Blue Jays managed to say, sweep the Rays, then that would likely be enough to keep them out, or at least force them into a tie-breaker. Cleveland will finish things up with a three game series against the playoff-bound Washington Nationals, and Oakland has a four game series with Seattle remaining.
It’s not just purely out of spite that this has some importance, as the Blue Jays have some reason to root against the Rays. Another postseason appearance will motivate the Rays to continue to pursue a competitive team, even in a difficult market, and that directly makes the Blue Jays’ job more difficult. They have to play each other 19 times a year, and the Blue Jays ultimately have to leapfrog them in the standings if they want to make a playoff push of their own down the line.
If nothing else, it’s a reason to motivate the rebuilding squad for the last three games of the year, and at this stage of this season that can’t be a bad thing.