Blue Jays: Do not let off the throttle this weekend in Baltimore
The Toronto Blue Jays are currently in the midst of an eight-game winning street, sweeping the Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees over the past week and have rocketed up the Wild Card standings.
While first place in the AL East is not going to be achievable, the Blue Jays are right on the heels of the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox for a Wild Card spot, sitting just 0.5 games back behind their division rivals. The Jays playoff odds are currently sitting at 52.4% as per Fangraphs with two weeks left in the season.
This weekend the Blue Jays are heading to Baltimore to face the last-place Orioles but do not let their placing fool you. They may be in last place and 32.5 games back but they are currently in spoiler mode, facing the Jays, Yankees, and Red Sox one more time before the season comes to a close. The Orioles aren’t going to be making the playoffs but you can bet they would be happy with dashing the hopes of any of the teams fighting in the Wild Card right now.
Do not let the Baltimore Orioles record fool you, the Blue Jays need to keep up the momentum and play well against their AL East opponents this weekend.
This season, the Blue Jays currently hold the season split at 8-4 over the Orioles and enter the weekend with lots of momentum after sweeping the Yankees and limiting them to just eight runs over four games.
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Vladimir Guerrero Jr. continues to play well and is on pace to compete for the Triple Crown and the Blue Jays starters are absolutely dominating, with each member of the rotation pitching well and Robbie Ray entering the Cy Young conversation. The rest of the batting order is also contributing, with Marcus Semien, Alejandro Kirk, and Bo Bichette all having good at-bats in New York while Teoscar Hernandez still continues to be a threat in the lineup every day. Throw in a bullpen that has weeded out the weaker arms and is keeping runs off the board a lot better than they did a month ago and the Blue Jays are sitting pretty as the season comes to a close.
The series against Baltimore is four games, with the club playing a doubleheader on Saturday to make up for the rainout back in August. All signs are pointing for the club to potentially call up Ross Stripling to appear in one of those games to keep the rotation consistent, otherwise, the Blue Jays will be sending Robbie Ray, Hyun Jin Ryu, and Steven Matz if the club keeps the same schedule. It could change with the doubleheader but there have been official announcements as of yet.
In Baltimore, some players to watch out for are:
Cedric Mullins: .303/.369/.535; .904 OPS; 27 HR; 54 RBI
Ryan Mountcastle: .263/.315/.491; .806 OPS; 26 HR; 77 RBI
Trey Mancini: .260/.327/.450; .777 OPS; 21 HR; 66 RBI
Mancini is always a threat to hit the long ball against the Blue Jays and boasts a .296/.344/.553 slash line through 66 games with 13 home runs and a .897 OPS to boot. The outfielder has been great to watch after returning from the cancer diagnosis that sidelined him last season and while he may not appear in every game this series as the season winds down, watch out for his bat when he steps up to the plate.
Mullins is having an all-star campaign and leads the club in multiple offensive categories. He has hit the most home runs of his career against the Blue Jays (eight) and will be looking to add to that total this series. Mountcastle is quickly turning into the Brett Gardner of the Orioles squad, as the slugger continues to find ways to dominate the Blue Jays. He owns a career .366/.438/.690 slash line through 71 at-bats against the club and always seems to be a thorn in their side, smashing seven home runs with a 1.128 OPS during that time. Proceed with caution.
They may be in last place but don’t think the Orioles are going to go down without a fight this weekend. The Blue Jays need to keep their foot on the throttle and continue winning if they want to play in the postseason this year.