Blue Jays won’t be a fun team to face in the playoffs

They still have to get there, but if the Blue Jays can qualify for the post-season then they’re going to be a very tough opponent in a three-game series.

With their 26th win on Sunday, the Blue Jays are one step closer to qualifying for the playoffs in 2020. That’s not something a lot of us were expecting when this shortened season began, but the pleasant surprise has brought some entertaining and meaningful baseball to our living rooms once again.

At the start of the year I was honestly hoping the Blue Jays could shoot for a .500 record, which felt like a lofty, but appropriate goal for the talented young team. Keep in mind that they won just 67 games a year ago, and even with the additions of starters like Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson, there was still a lot work to be done. However, through a combination of solid play from the youngsters, breakout years from a few players, an amazing performance from the bullpen, and a vastly improved starting rotation, here we sit.

And while the expectations for the Blue Jays may still be understandably low as they enter the final stretch of calendar, I sincerely doubt that many teams want to face them in the playoffs this year.

The first round will be just three games in 2020, and you’d better believe that it could work to the Blue Jays’ advantage.

For starters, they have a legitimate ace in Ryu, who is now 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. Save for one rough outing against the Nationals in his second appearance of the year, the southpaw has been one of the best pitchers in baseball once again this season. Granted, their playoff opponent will more than likely have an ace of their own, but there aren’t many who have been better than Ryu in 2020, and starting a three-game series with a win would be huge.

The Blue Jays may not have another ace in the rotation beyond Ryu, but they’ve got enough veteran talent that they’ll have options between Anderson, Roark, Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray, Ross Stripling, and Matt Shoemaker is working toward coming off of the Injured List and making himself an option by then. The thing is, they may not need more than a few innings from their starter in this type of scenario, especially with the dynamic bullpen that’s been formed in Buffalo this year.

Now that Ken Giles has returned from the IL, he joins Anthony Bass, and Rafael Dolis as hard-throwing, late-inning options. They may not get Jordan Romano back in time to join the relief corps, but thankfully the rest of the group has been outstanding in his absence, and could be a huge advantage in a short series. Thomas Hatch and A.J. Cole has been very impressive this year, and Julian Merryweather has really been turning heads lately. Throw in the vastly improved Shun Yamaguchi, the pleasant surprise in Sean Reid-Foley, and a pair of dynamic lefties in Ryan Borucki and Anthony Kay, and you’ve got a ton of talent at your disposal. One would think that if any pitcher was struggling in a short playoff series, they’d get a quick hook.

That brings me to the lineup, and on one hand I’ll admit that the first post-season experience will likely serve as a learning experience for this talented young core. That said, they’ve shown themselves to be fearless many times before, and there won’t be much pressure on the youngsters to advance beyond the next round. Yes, there will be playoff pressure, but on the other hand, maybe they won’t feel it so much this time around? With a deep and talented lineup, it could be a recipe for disaster for whomever they square off with in the first round.

At this point, I feel like as long as the Blue Jays can avoid a collapse over their last 14 games and hang on to a playoff spot, everything beyond that will be gravy. In a lot of ways they’ve “arrived” a year early, and they’re already proving why they’ll be a force to be reckoned with for at least the next several years. As for 2020, I wouldn’t want to line up against them now either.