The Blue Jays have lost their grip on second place in the AL East, but they’re still in an enviable spot when it comes to the Wild Card picture.
The Blue Jays were feeling pretty good about things when they arrived in New York for on Tuesday for the start of a three-game series, but a lot has changed in a very short time.
They started the series with a 0.5 game advantage over the Yankees for the second spot in the AL East, and had an opportunity to grow that lead with direct competition against the division rival. However, things have gone about as bad as possible through the first two games, with a 20-6 loss on Tuesday night, followed by another drubbing on Wednesday by a score of 13-2.
I don’t blame the fan base for feeling the dread of a late-season collapse, but right now the Blue Jays are still in a pretty solid spot. They’re going to have to make up some serious ground on the Yankees over their last five head-to-head meetings if they want a shot at second, but even if they’re destined for third in the division, they should still make the playoffs. I used the word “should” because they’re not even close to guaranteed that spot, but they do have a nice cushion. As for Fangraphs, they still like the Jays for a 96.4% chance.
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After last night’s loss they’re sitting in sixth in the standings with just 12 games remaining in their regular season schedule. Here’s how the race looks with a dozen left to play.
1- Chicago (–)
2- Tampa Bay (1.0)
3- Oakland (1.5)
4- Minnesota (2.0)
5- New York (4.0)
6- Toronto (5.5)
7- Cleveland (6.0)
8- Houston (8.0)
9- Seattle (9.5)*
10- Baltimore (10.0)
11- Detroit (10.5)
12- Kansas City (11.5)
*As of this writing, Seattle was still playing their game on Wednesday night, however, they were losing 8-3 in the fifth inning.
As you can see, this isn’t the same kind of contested race that’s taking place in the National League. In fact, there’s a pretty clear divide with every team having at least a .500 record with the exception of the Astros at 24-25, and every team below the playoff threshold also sitting below .500.
The Blue Jays have now dropped to 26-22, and with five games remaining against the Yankees, four with the Phillies, and three with the Orioles, they’re not guaranteed to stay above .500 either if this is the start of a losing streak. You would hope that they can go at least 4-8 over their final 12, but they also have some pretty stiff competition, and they’ve been completely outclassed by the Yankees so far. All that said, the Blue Jays may not even need to do that to hang on to eighth.
Starting with the Mariners, they’ve got a very difficult schedule to close to the season as well, with the Padres, Astros, and A’s on deck to finish up. Detroit has just 10 games left to play, and they’ll draw Cleveland, Minnesota, and Kansas City. The Orioles get Tampa Bay for a five-game series, followed by three with Boston, and then closing things out against the Blue Jays.
As for the Blue Jays, at the very least they should have control of their own destiny. Provided they don’t completely collapse, they should be able to qualify for the playoffs, and after that anything can happen. More importantly, they’ll need to get back on track after a pair of embarrassing losses to the Yankees, which followed an 18-1 drubbing at the hands of the Mets last week as well. It’s time to get back to playing at least decent baseball, and if they can do that much, they should still make the playoffs.