Blue Jays are well set up for a big second half of the season
The AL East is vulnerable
Baseball fans are pretty familiar with the idea of a “window of contention”, as it’s been a term we’ve heard several times throughout franchise history. One part of the formula for a window is having a quality roster, which is something that you can control. The other variable would be the quality of your competition, and the Jays have always had an uphill battle that way in the AL East.
It’s still possible that we see a four-team race in the division this year between the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Rays, and Yankees, but the standings have shifted quite a bit over the last few weeks. The Red Sox have a nice lead at 52-32 which gives them a 4.5 game advantage over the 2nd place Rays at 47-36. The Blue Jays are 7.5 back of the Red Sox and 3.0 behind the Rays, and the struggling Yankees have dropped to 41-40 and 9.5 back of the top of the standings.
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As much as I hate to admit it, the Red Sox are far better than I ever expected them to be, and they’re going to be tough to knock off from the top. That said, right now the season series is 5-4 in favour of the Red Sox, which leaves them 10 more head to head games to play. If the Blue Jays want a chance at winning the division, they’re going to need to dominate those matchups in particular. And even if I just admitted that they’re better than I thought, I still expect the Sox to come back to earth in the second half, and their rotation is finally showing some cracks in that direction.
As for Rays and Yankees, both teams have been struggling of late, with the Rays just 4-6 over their last 10, and the Yankees only 3-7. I fully expect the Rays to figure things out sooner than later, but I’m not so sure about the Yankees anymore. It seems almost unthinkable for the Bronx Bombers, but if they struggle into the All-Star break they could even become sellers.
Whatever happens, the Blue Jays are always going to have a difficult division to play in, and the 2021 season is no different. That said, if the Yankees fall out of the race as I expect them to, and the Rays and Red Sox regress a bit in the second half, don’t be surprised if the Blue Jays are pushing for the division instead of just a Wild Card spot.
Either way, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about what’s ahead for the Blue Jays in the second half, and with a few extra pieces, they might even go from good to great.