The regular season is over and the Blue Jays have made the playoffs. Regardless of what happens from here, 2020 has been a success for the Jays.
In some ways it’s easy to look back at the shortened season of 2020 and say the Blue Jays missed a lot of opportunities, and that’s certainly true. That said, if you told any of us that the Jays would qualify for the post-season and finish with a .533 winning percentage, 99 out of 100 people would have signed up for that in a heartbeat.
And you know what? It’s worth celebrating for a team that won just 67 games last year and had a .414 winning percentage. I wrote last September about how I felt like a lofty but appropriate goal for the Blue Jays would be a .500 record in 2020, which is an important step in the rebuild that they started a few years ago.
Yes, it was a shortened schedule, but that had its pros and cons too. You could argue that the Jays may have had a hard time sustaining their success over a full season, but we don’t know if that’s actually true or not. What we do know is that they were dealt a pretty tough schedule, only playing against teams from the AL and NL East. That was no easy task in 2020 with clubs like the Rays, Yankees, and Braves, and even if they didn’t have the best of years, squaring off against the Phillies, Nationals, and Mets was far from a cake walk.
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With all that said, what should we expect from the Blue Jays in the playoffs? They’ll match up with a familiar foe in the Rays, and honestly, anything could happen in a three-game, first series round. The Jays will be the heavy underdogs, but as we’ve seen plenty of times throughout 2020, that doesn’t mean a whole lot. They’re entering the post-season having played very well over the last week, and I guarantee the Rays aren’t taking them lightly.
Having said that, I hope that we can all keep our expectations in check for the young core of this Blue Jays team. They weren’t supposed to be here in a lot of ways, and without the expanded playoff format then they would have finished just on the outside. It’s an added benefit for a talented young group that’s rising quickly, and the experience of playing in the post-season will be huge for budding stars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and many more.
The way I look at it, the 2020 season was and is still about taking important steps toward building a sustainable winner, and it’s hard to argue that the Jays haven’t accomplished that goal. As for the playoffs, I believe that they could make some noise, and I’m not writing them off at all. However, I do look the playoffs as the “gravy” of the 2020 campaign for Charlie Montoyo’s young squad, and that anything they give us in 2020 is a bonus.
Regardless of how things go against the Rays or beyond, the Blue Jays have seen a ton of positive developments this year, and they have to be feeling pretty good about the prospects of the next several seasons ahead of them. As for the playoffs, let’s all do our best to enjoy the experience, celebrate the achievements of the season, and perhaps even be thankful that there was baseball to watch at all during a global pandemic. The Blue Jays have certainly done their part to keep us entertained, and the fact that we now get to watch playoff baseball this week is a wonderful bonus.