The Toronto Blue Jays enter today second in the AL East and in sole possession of the first AL Wild Card spot with just nine games left on the season. They currently hold a 2.5-game advantage over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays and a 3.0-game advantage over the Seattle Mariners, with the Baltimore Orioles sitting just outside the playoff picture at 4.0 games back of them.
For the Blue Jays, their magic number sits at four games, with a postseason spot almost feeling guaranteed at this point, yet there is lots of work still left for the club to put themselves into the best position for October baseball.
Continuing to win will help guarantee the club locks up the first Wild Card spot, which comes with a home-field advantage against likely either the Rays or Mariners. Outside of that, second place will see the Jays head to either Tampa or Seattle while a third-place finish will see them head to Cleveland, as the club just locked up first in the AL Central.
Blue Jays and their playoff standings
That being said, the Jays were also in the mix for the AL East division, but with the team now 8.5 games back, it is safe to say that the New York Yankees will likely clinch the division, and with the Bronx Bombers in Toronto for a three-game series starting today, they will likely do so with a win over the next three days. A Blue Jays sweep would likely avoid this happening in Toronto at least, but unless the Yankees collapse over the last week and a half of the regular season, I would hedge my bets more towards the first spot in the AL Wild Card for the Jays.
With the Yankees in town, there is also the potential that we see the Blue Jays on the wrong side of history, as slugger Aaron Judge enters this series with 60 home runs, currently one shy of Yankees legend Roger Maris. Hitting the 61st home run would tie Maris for the most home runs in a single season for the historic franchise and hitting the 62nd home run mark would see a new AL single-season home run record.
Aaron Judge chasing history
This has been one of the most watched events in baseball over the past month and even had the Yankees organization and the YES network fighting with the MLB and Apple for streaming rights last week. With the Rogers Centre considered a hitter-friendly park and Judge leading off as of late, he will likely get 12-16 at-bats to try for the record over the next few days on Canadian soil.
Through 63 at-bats against the Jays this season, Judge owns a .238/.314/.444 slash line with three home runs,10 RBI and a .759 OPS, with only one of those home runs coming at the Rogers Centre. If the Jays keep the current rotation going, they should be sending Kevin Gausman, José Berríos, and Mitch White/bullpen day to the mound, with Judge having home runs off Berríos (currently tied for third in the MLB for home runs allowed at 29), Alek Manoah, and Jordan Romano this season.
Overall, it is exciting to see a player like Judge chasing history set by great players before them. Hopefully, he is able to do so, because I think it would be a great feat to see for the game, but after the Yankees get swept by the Blue Jays over the next three days and either against Baltimore or Texas later this season.