The Blue Jays are heading to the playoffs but there is still work to be done
This time last year, the Toronto Blue Jays were on the outside looking in when it came to playoff baseball. The Tampa Bay Rays had locked up the AL East and the Boston Red Sox were sitting first in the AL Wild Card while the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners were tied for the second spot. The Blue Jays were sitting a game back, a trend that continued to the end of the season when their 91-71 record was one game shy of forcing a playoff tiebreaker.
This year, the “movie” already has a better ending, as the Blue Jays are heading to the postseason after the Baltimore Orioles lost yesterday afternoon to the Red Sox, mathematically ensuring Toronto would play meaningful October baseball. Right now, the Blue Jays occupy the first Wild Card spot and if the season ended today, they would walk away with home-field advantage. The Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners sit just below them in the standings but are still within striking distance with six games left on the year for the Jays.
Overall, the fact the Blue Jays are making the playoffs is excellent to see, especially with the rollercoaster of a season the club has had. From the highs and lows, the Jays organization has been through a lot this year. Charlie Montoyo was fired just before the All-Star break, Hyun Jin Ryu underwent Tommy John surgery and might never pitch again for the Jays, and a newly extended José Berríos struggled while the newly signed Yusei Kikuchi got relegated to the bullpen.
Not everything was negative though, as Alek Manoah has posted an excellent sophomore campaign while Kevin Gausman has been the rock this team needed with Robbie Ray’s free-agent departure. Matt Chapman provides excellent stability at third base and the club has seen some rising stars in the form of Jordan Romano and Alejandro Kirk, complemented by the core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and pretty much a full season of George Springer (compared to 2021 at least).
Time for the Blue Jays to lock down home-field advantage
While there won’t be the over-the-top clubhouse celebrations fans are used to seeing considering today was an off day for the Blue Jays, the club still has work to do over the next two series.
Both the Rays and Mariners are still capable of taking over the first Wild Card spot, and if the Blue Jays want home-field advantage and avoid either a trip to Seattle, Tampa, or Cleveland, they will still need to finish strong. The Jays have played well at home this year (44-34) and we all know how rowdy the Rogers Centre can be during a postseason game.
The Blue Jays will welcome the Red Sox for a three-game series before finishing out the year at Camden Yards in Baltimore for a three-game set.
Some outside luck with the Mariners and Rays losing will go a long way but if the Blue Jays can take each series (finishing 4-2 over the next six games), they will avoid having to invoke any tiebreaker rules (which they would lose and be dropped down the order, as both teams hold the season record on the Jays) unless the Rays go 6-0 and the Mariners go 6-1 and tie the Blue Jays at 91 wins. If the Jays can sweep one of these series (or both) and finish at 92 or 93 wins, the odds will get even better as the Rays could not catch them while the Mariners would have to be perfect the rest of the season to hit the 92 mark.
Given the recent errors and baserunning miscues, it is time for the Blue Jays to buckle down and lock up the home-field advantage.