The Blue Jays have seven games left in their regular season schedule, and are tied for 7th in the AL. What do they need to do to make the playoffs?
Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Phillies brought the Blue Jays a tremendous sense of relief after the worst week they’ve had all year.
Starting last week in second place in the AL East, the Jays were swept by the Yankees in their three-game series in New York, and it wasn’t pretty. The Yankees posted 43 runs over those three games, and that came after the Mets had handed the Blue Jays an 18-1 loss on August 11 as well. Things didn’t get much better over their first three games with the Phillies either, and a six-game losing streak had the Jays suddenly feeling the pressure to hang on to even a Wild Card spot. Thankfully their closest competition hasn’t been playing much better, or they’d likely be in real trouble.
Instead, the Blue Jays hold a 4.0 game lead in the Wild Card race after their win on Sunday, currently tied with the Astros for the 7th spot in the American league. Seattle is in ninth place at 4.0 games back, and still faintly in the picture are the Angels, Tigers, and Orioles at 4.5 behind. Again, things haven’t gone well for the Blue Jays lately, but they’re still 97.9% favourites to qualify for the post-season according to Fangraphs.
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That said, their spot is far from guaranteed right now, and things aren’t going to be easy over the final week. Thankfully they don’t have to go back to New York, but they do host the Yankees for four games back in Buffalo and they’ll look to put up a much bigger fight than the last match-up between the two clubs. They actually finish the regular season schedule with a seven-game home stand, closing up against the Orioles for three games.
As of now, the Blue Jays’ magic number is down to four. For those that aren’t familiar with the term, it’s the number of Blue Jays and/or Seattle losses before they punch their ticket to the post-season. For example, that could come in the form of four wins in their next seven games, or even something like just two wins, combined with at least two Mariner losses. Knowing that and even though they’ve got some stiff competition, the Blue Jays are in good shape.
At 27-26, ideally they’ll be able to finish at or above .500, which is a nice milestone for this young team. If they had avoided their recent losing streak then it could have been much better even, but in the grand scheme of things a .500 record is a nice place to be at this late stage of the rebuild, and should set them up well for 2021. I wrote about this being a goal back in Sept of last year, and while it’s been a rollercoaster since, I’m glad to see that it looks like they’ll reach the mark even in a shortened season.
In the meantime, hopefully the Blue Jays can take the momentum from their Sunday win and take control of their own destiny this week. We’ve had plenty of close games to cause grey hair for the fan base already, so a more relaxed final week before the post-season would sure be nice.