Unfortunately the Blue Jays have hit a cold stretch at the worst possible time. With 44 games left in the regular season, how hot do they have to get in order to stay in the playoff race?
That’s a question that will have many different variables than factor into the answer. Right now the Blue Jays are competing with the A’s, Red Sox, and Yankees, who are all tied in the standings at the end of play Tuesday night. That three-way tie was made possible by the Yankees sweeping the Red Sox in a double-header, and another loss by the A’s as well.
Obviously the Blue Jays are going to have to do their part to stay afloat in the postseason race, and that’s not going to be an easy task. That’s especially the case now that George Springer has returned to the Injured List, and Charlie Montoyo admitted that there is no immediate timetable for his return. On top of that, Bo Bichette left the game early on Tuesday night again after he’s missed some time recently with sore legs. The star shortstop had been hurting after fouling several balls off his shins last week, and unfortunately was hit on the ankle while retreating to second base as a base runner on Tuesday. Here’s hoping it’s nothing serious, but he’s clearly not at 100%.
Despite that adversity and the consistent struggles from the bullpen, the Jays can’t exactly throw in the towel just yet. That said, they’re going to have to get hot and stay that way, and in theory they should have a chance to do that against the Nationals and Tigers this week, even if they missed an opportunity on Tuesday.
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According to Fangraphs, the Blue Jays are on pace to finish with a record of 89-73 in 2021, which would leave them just short of a Wild Card spot. Right now Fangraphs predicts that the Red Sox will take the first WC position with 92.8 wins, and the Yankees will get the other with 92.2. With that in mind, you could say that the Jays are likely going to need 93 wins to best them, and the A’s are still in the picture and on pace for 90.5 as well.
For the Blue Jays to get to 93 wins that would mean they’ll need to go 30-14 the rest of the way, which is a very tall order. It’s not impossible, but at this point they may need some help from their fellow contenders to bring that number down from 93 by a game or two.
Unfortunately they couldn’t take advantage of a favourable match-up against the Nationals on Tuesday night, but hopefully they can turn things around in time to split the two-game series on Wednesday. After that they’ll still have plenty of games on their schedule that they “should” win, including 10 against the Orioles, seven vs. the Twins, and six with the Tigers. Unfortunately they have some more difficult competition ahead as well in the Yankees for seven games, six against the Rays, four vs. the White Sox, and three with the A’s.
As I said before, the Blue Jays aren’t quite at the place where they should be waving a white flag, but it’s getting to the point where there is very little margin left for error. If they can’t take care of business for the rest of this week against the Nationals and Tigers, you can all but kiss their playoff chances goodbye.