A week ago the Blue Jays were worried about making the playoffs at all, but the goalposts are moving in a positive direction lately.
At the conclusion of the MLB schedule on Saturday night the Blue Jays hold the top Wild Card spot over the Rays and Mariners, and have really put some distance between themselves and the rest of the field trying to catch up. Their second straight win over the Baltimore Orioles now puts 7.0 games between the two teams with just 16 left to play for the Jays. I’m not quite ready to declare the Orioles’ playoff hopes as completely dead, but it’s getting close to that point, and thankfully they’re the closest team to the current playoff field.
I talked about this earlier in the week, but as the Blue Jays continue to take care of business in September I thought it was well worth an update about where things stand.
As the top Wild Card team, the Blue Jays would be the 4th seed if the regular season ended today. That means they would get to be the host for the 3-game series in the opening round, and they would be welcoming the Mariners to the Rogers Centre. In my mind, that might be the most appealing scenario for the first round, mostly because I really believe in the value of being able to play at home in the postseason, especially for a young roster like they have in Toronto these days.
While holding on to the 4th seed is a solid goal for the Blue Jays over the final 16 games, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they could still chase down the Yankees for the AL East title. After the Yankees dropped their game to the Brewers last night they’re down to just a 4.5 game lead over the Blue Jays for the division race. At one point it looked like Aaron Judge and the Bronx Bombers might break the all-time single season wins record, but these days they’re literally and figuratively limping into the playoffs. There’s not much time left to make up those 4.5 games, but the two teams do have a three-game series left to play in Toronto from Sept 26-28.
It’s a much better place to be in than they were a month ago, and the Blue Jays are really coming together at the right time as we get close to the postseason. They’re now 13-4 since the calendar flipped to September, and things are finally starting to fall into place as far as the roster is concerned. Bo Bichette has been arguably the best hitter in the world over the last two weeks, others like George Springer and Matt Chapman are heating up and giving the lineup more length, and the bullpen has been really solid of late. Add on another strong performance from Jose Berrios on Saturday as he looks to keep turning around a rough season, and there’s a lot to like about this team as the end of the regular season draws near.
For a fan base that has been agonizing about a talented team that hasn’t quite reached its potential for most of the year, these days Blue Jays boosters are sleeping a little better, or at least I am. Right now they’re in a position where they can control their own destiny by making the playoffs as long as they don’t fall apart down the stretch, and if they’re up for the fight they could even improve their place in the seeding as high as 2nd if they can catch the Yankees at the 11th hour.
For a team that scuffled through large chunks of the August schedule, it sure is nice to breathe a little easier down the stretch. That doesn’t mean we’re in for a stress-free stretch of games to finish the year by any means, but now that the goalposts have moved a bit, the pressure comes in a different form.