Any loss late in the season for a playoff-bound team is bound to sting, and these past couple of days have been no different for the Blue Jays after they dropped Thursday and last night’s games against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Both squads are jockeying for position in the AL Wild Card, with the Jays and Rays now boasting equal records (84-67) as they head into today’s contest at Tropicana Field. They currently sit a game and a half above the Seattle Mariners who occupy the third spot. The Baltimore Orioles are also just outside the playoff picture but are only three games behind the Mariners and 4.5 behind both Toronto and Tampa.
The AL Wild Card is far from decided. While the Jays had aspirations of dethroning the New York Yankees for the top spot in the AL East, those dreams are slowly slipping away unless the Jays can sweep them next week and continue their winning ways the rest of the year (with a bit of luck in some Yankees losses). As of writing, both the Jays and Rays are 8.5 games back of the Bronx Bombers and it’s probably an easier bet to say the Yankees might finish top dog in the AL East, leaving the rest to fight for Wild Card spots.
Blue Jays and the Tiebreaker Scenario
That being said, these past two losses have hurt the Jays in their playoff standings but last night specifically hurts a little bit more thanks to a recent rule change earlier this year. It was decided that there would be no more “Game 163” tiebreakers this year with the extended playoff format, meaning any ties for playoff spots will go through categorized tiebreakers to determine playoff seeding. The list and its order are as follows:
- Head to Head Record
- Intradivision Record
- Interdivision Record
- Last Half of Intraleague Games
- Last Half of Intraleague Games Plus One
For the Blue Jays, last night’s loss means the Rays will take the season series no matter what, as it is currently at 7-10 and there are only two games remaining. With that in mind, if the Jays finish tied with the Rays in the AL Wild Card, Toronto will be dropped down a spot in the seeding chart.
This could mean the Jays no longer get home field advantage in the first spot (and now have to travel to face the Rays) or they could be on the road to face Cleveland in the number three slot (which isn’t such a bad consolation prize if you ask me).
What about the Mariners and Orioles?
It should also be noted the Blue Jays also don’t hold the season series over the Seattle Mariners as well. so theoretically, if the Jays tie with either team when all is said and done, Toronto would get dropped down to either face the Rays/Mariners (depending on who finishes first) at their home stadium or on the road to Cleveland.
This also gets a bit complicated if the Orioles find a way to sneak into the playoffs, as the Jays and Orioles finish the season in Baltimore for a three-game set and currently sit tied at 8-8 apiece on the season series. This could present challenges should the Jays be looking to tinker with their lineup heading into the postseason but the eventual hope will be that the club has locked up a postseason spot (from a mathematical perspective) and the Orioles series is geared more towards trying to gain home field advantage versus fighting for a spot in the postseason.
A lot can happen over the next week but one thing is for certain; this weekend series is showing that the Blue Jays should likely try and avoid any postseason setting involving Tropicana Field, and with that in mind, a slump or losing skid to end the year could put the Jays on the outside looking in on the playoff picture overall.