The Toronto Blue Jays lost yesterday’s finale against the Cleveland Guardians, dropping to 61-52 on the season and are currently 3-7 in their last ten games. While Gausman wasn’t his sharpest yesterday, also aided by some defensive miscues that didn’t help his cause, Cleveland’s Shane Bieber limited the Blue Jays’ offense to just two runs through seven innings. Unless Gausman and the Jays bullpen were absolutely on point, it’s tough to win ballgames when the lineup is posting just a couple of runs a game.
That was the case this weekend, as the Jays struggled against some tough starting pitchers in Bieber, Triston McKenzie, and Cal Quantrill, who stimied the Jays to just four runs over three games. This lack of run support hasn’t been limited to just this weekend, as the Jays have been shut out five times this season and the club has only hit the four-run threshold just four times through 11 games in August, which is low for a lineup that currently boasts a third-ranked .759 OPS on the year.
Regardless of these latest results, MLB.com’s Keegan Matheson also pointed out a statistic that might be a bit troublesome for a Blue Jays team that is looking to make the playoffs, in that the Jays currently hold a 30-40 record against clubs with a .500 record or better on the season. Looking at some of the teams vying for a postseason spot, the Blue Jays currently hold the following season records against these AL teams:
Baltimore Orioles: 2-4
Chicago White Sox: 4-2
Cleveland Guardians: 2-4
Houston Astros: 4-2
Minnesota Twins: 3-4
New York Yankees: 4-8
Seattle Mariners: 2-5
Tampa Bay Rays: 4-6
Considering the Yankees are likely locking up the AL East top spot barring a monumental slump, the Jays will be looking to make the postseason spot via the Wild Card. They currently hold the top spot thanks to the Rangers besting the Mariners 5-3 yesterday as well but both Seattle and Tampa are within 1 game of the Jays while Baltimore, Minnesota, and Chicago sit under three games back of the AL Wild Card overall.
The Toronto Blue Jays currently occupy the first AL Wild Card spot but a worrisome trend against strong teams could jeopardize the club’s playoff chances.
For example, if the season was to end today, the Jays would be ranked #4 overall and would be facing the #5 seed in the Mariners but would get the home advantage for the three-game series. This does also mean the Jays would have to overcome the Mariners, who they have only won two of seven games against this season and got better at the trade deadline with the acquisition of starter Luis Castillo among others. Even if the Jays and Mariners switched spots in the Wild Card standings, they would still face Seattle but would be on the road instead of at home. The only difference in this outcome would be a result of:
- The Jays finding a way to knock off the New York Yankees for first in the AL East and either earn a first-round bye or occupy #3 seed
- Fall to third in the Wild Card standings and face the #3 seed, who happens to be the Cleveland Guardians (2-4 record on the year) or potentially the Twins or White Sox if they can take first in the AL Central
The one thing the Blue Jays do have going for them is that they still face AL East rivals in 35 of the remaining 49 games this season but will have to buck the worrying trend of holding a losing record to teams over the .500 mark, as only Boston sits below that mark in the AL East at 56-59 and are the only team in the division they hold a winning season record over. From September 12th to October 5th, the Jays face the entire AL East division in at least one series except for a quick two-game series against Philadelphia on September 20-21.
It should also be noted that the tiebreaker method is gone for the MLB postseason this year, meaning if the Jays drop to third and are tied with another team, and don’t hold a winning season record (if they played, which seems likely given the current standings), they get dropped.
While the Jays don’t face the Mariners, White Sox, Guardians, or Twins again this season (so nothing can be done about the head-to-head records), they can still make up ground on the Yankees (seven games), Rays (nine games), and Orioles (13 games) which not only helps their chances of making/securing a postseason spot but also eliminates any advantage another club within the division has should they tie for any sort of reason in the AL Wild Card.
Overall, this past weekend was a bit of a bummer for the Blue Jays and their fans and the schedule only gets harder as the Orioles come to town for three games before the club travels to New York for a four-game series. A continuing slump could have some really nasty consequences on the Jays’ playoff picture.