Blue Jays: Is it smarter to rest, or push to pass the Yankees?
With a Blue Jay win and a Yankee loss on Friday night, there’s just 1.0 game between them in the standings. Should the Jays push to catch them, or rest up for the playoffs?
It’s been a great year to be a Blue Jays fan, and even in during a shortened season of just 60 games, it’s awfully exciting to think that they’ll be playing playoff baseball next week.
After Thursday night’s win against the Yankees, the Jays punched their ticket to the post-season. With eight teams from each league qualifying for the playoffs, the Blue Jays appeared to be taking advantage of one of the added spots. However, after taking three out of four against the Yankees, a win against the Orioles on Friday night, and a Yankee loss to the Marlins, they might not be done improving their spot. Entering Saturday’s schedule, the Blue Jays are just 1.0 game behind New York.
If you watched Friday’s game, you likely noticed that the Blue Jays were taking a more relaxed approach to their final regular season series. Taijuan Walker was pulled after just three no-hit innings, presumably to give him some extra rest before his first playoff start. They also rested key contributors like Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., which makes sense now that the pressure to qualify for the post-season is off. That said, should the Blue Jays kick back into playoff mode and try to catch the Yankees?
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Obviously they’re going to try and win their last two games against the Orioles regardless of what happens between the Yankees and the Marlins. That said, Montoyo will have an interesting choice in front of him, especially when it comes to how he uses his pitching staff. Ideally the back-of-the-pen arms like Anthony Bass and Rafael Dolis will be able to rest this weekend, but is it worth holding them back in a tight game if it means second place is attainable?
If it were up to me, I’d take a similar approach to the lineup that we saw from Montoyo on Friday. If you get a chance to rest a key player like Biggio or Gurriel Jr. for a day, that could be worthwhile. The Blue Jays’ bench pieces have also been playing well, so the absence of the regulars hasn’t been felt, which was clear with their 10-run effort on Friday.
That said, the schedule works in the Blue Jays’ favour on Saturday. In order to pass the Yankees, the Jays need to win both of their final two against Baltimore, and the Yankees would have to lose one. With that in mind, I’d be watching the scoreboard closely on Saturday because the Bronx Bombers play at 1:05 EST tomorrow, and the Blue Jays don’t start until 6:37, which means they’ll already know how New York fared.
In the event that Yankees lose tomorrow afternoon, I believe the Blue Jays have to do almost whatever they can to win their last two. Moving up in the standings would be no small thing, and they’d likely get to avoid a trip to play the Rays at the dreaded “Trop” that way. It would also be a tremendous blow to the Yankees, which would be especially worthwhile to inflict on a division rival.
Maybe Montoyo will decide to stick to the rest plan he has in place, and avoid using his top relievers on Sunday regardless of the circumstances. However, there could be an important opportunity to consider this weekend.