Ideally the Blue Jays will win all of their remaining four games left in the regular season, but even then they could use some help in the Wild Card race.
It’s a very complicated picture that gets messier by the day as we near the beginning of the playoffs, and there are a lot of different ways that the two Wild Card spots could still work out.
Heading into Thursday’s schedule the Yankee still hold the top spot by a game over the second Wild Card team in the Red Sox, with the Mariners a half game back of Boston, and the Blue Jays half a game behind them. For the sake of a visual:
NYY: — * (1st WC spot)
BOS: 1.0 * (2nd WC spot)
With only four games left for the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays, and just three remaining for the Mariners, it’s pretty amazing how many different scenarios could still play out. Any of those four teams could make up the two that end up in the Wild Card game, but we’re now getting to the point where they can no longer determine their destiny on their own, with the exception of the Yankees and Red Sox winning out to hold their spots.
For the Blue Jays to secure one of those two playoff positions they ideally need to win all four of their remaining games. Three out of four could theoretically get it done too, but that would take some extra assistance from other teams.
For the Jays to catch the Red Sox, they’re going to need to rely on either the Orioles to complete the series win against Boston on Thursday, or hope that Washington can finish their disappointing season on a high note at home. That’s not exactly a difficult schedule for the Red Sox, but they’ve been scuffling a bit of late, losing four in a row prior to Wednesday night’s win. The Orioles and Nationals also have nothing to lose at this point in the year, and those kind of clubs can be tough to play against at the end of the season.
For the Jays to catch the Yankees they’ll need to start by winning their second game of the three-game set between the two. After their thrilling win on Wednesday night they pulled back to 2.0 games behind the Yankees for the top Wild Card spot, right where they started when the series began. If the Jays can head into their final set with the Orioles just one game behind the Yankees they’ll have to hope that the Rays are motivated enough to keep New York out of the playoff picture to lend a hand to the effort.
Lastly, the Mariners have the disadvantage of only having three games remaining in their regular season, and they’ll square off against the Angels to finish things up. Last night’s win to complete the sweep of the A’s ended Oakland’s chances of factoring into the equation, and very much keeps the Mariners in picture.
There are multiple ways that this race could play out, and at least one scenario could make for an incredibly chaotic ending. Things could get particularly wild if the four teams finish up like this:
Red Sox: 2-2
Blue Jays: 3-1
If the baseball gods decide to follow this script, we’ll have a four-way tie for the two Wild Card spots. It gets pretty complicated from there, and my head hurts looking at the tie-breaker scenarios, so we won’t go there unless we need to in a few days.
At the end of it all, the Blue Jays have to rely on the opponents for the Red Sox (Orioles, Nationals) and the Yankees (Rays) to win at least one game, or it won’t matter even if they win out. They’ll have to take care of their own business first, but as long as do that then there’s a good chance the postseason door could still be open for them, even with four teams battling for two spots.