Tampa Bay Rays
With nine more games against Tampa Bay, winning at least five of them would help the Jays gain at least one game on the Rays, all else equal.
Winning six of them would ensure the Jays hold the season series tiebreaker 10-9, which will determine playoff seeding in case of a tie after the 162-game regular season. But the Rays are playing some of their best baseball of the season, going 7-3 in their past ten with a +55 run differential that only trails the Yankees and Astros in the American League.
They’ve just given a two-year contract extension through 2024 to the rehabbing Tyler Glasnow, and last year locked up star shortstop Wander Franco to an 11-year deal worth $182 million, with an option for a 12th year for a total of $223 million. This signifies a change in payroll upside for the Rays, who have never previously paid any player a $25 million annual salary.
Since trading for super-utilityman Isaac Parades ahead of their season opener, and adding LF David Peralta and CF Jose Siri ahead of the August 2nd trade deadline, the Rays have been having a solid season.
The team is 16-9 since the trade deadline and features strong starting pitching led by Cy Young candidate Shane McClanahan, and a lights-out bullpen featuring former Blue Jay Jason Adam, Brooks Raley, Colin Poche and Pete Fairbanks.
Their team ERA is the third best in baseball after the Dodgers and Guardians since August 2nd at 2.97, and they lead baseball on FIP at 2.97 as well. This is a team that doesn’t beat itself, with only 64 unearned runs on 63 errors season to date and they have just enough offense to win 70 games so far and go 30-25 against AL East opponents season to date.