The Blue Jays swept the Boston Red Sox this past weekend, securing a 16-3 series record on the season over their AL East rival which set a franchise record for the most wins against an opponent in a single campaign. The Jays have already secured a playoff spot via the Wild Card, and while the notion of playing October baseball is reassuring, there is still work to be done with one series left on the year.
After this weekend, there are only three teams left standing in the AL Wild Card race, as the Baltimore Orioles have now been mathematically eliminated from the equation. The Jays currently sit in first with a 2.5 game advantage over the Seattle Mariners while the Tampa Bay Rays sit a game and a half behind them.
With the remaining schedule, the Mariners have four games left on the season while the Jays and Rays only have three. That being said, where do we go from here when it comes to the Blue Jays and the playoff picture?
Blue Jays and home field advantage
With the Rays 4.0 games back of the Jays, they can no longer clinch the first Wild Card position and can only finish second or third but have an uphill battle against them considering Seattle has an additional game at hand against a struggling Detroit Tigers squad while the Rays square off against the Red Sox. If the Rays and Mariners tie for second, the Mariners would drop to third as Tampa holds the season series advantage at 5-2.
Toronto currently has the advantage of securing the AL Wild Card home field via first place, as their magic number currently sits at two. The Blue Jays would either need to be swept or only win one game in Baltimore while the Mariners would have to win the series (sweep if the Jays win only one game or win three if the Jays get swept) to overtake the Jays in the Wild Card standings, as they hold the season series advantage in the event of a tie.
Overall, the odds favour the Blue Jays but the best they can do is to take the series this week in Baltimore and not have to worry about the Mariners and whether they win or lose over the next week.
The Blue Jays’ postseason path
Depending on how the Mariners and Rays finish in the standings, as I mentioned earlier, the Jays are likely welcoming one of the two squads at the Rogers Centre this upcoming weekend. The Rays cannot catch the Jays in the standings while the Mariners could surpass the Jays (as I mentioned above), and considering the Jays cannot fall to third, they will either be playing in Toronto or Seattle for the AL Wild Card.
Now that the Jays cannot fall to third, it also means should they advance out of the Wild Card, they will face the first-place Houston Astros in the ALDS instead of the Yankees given the fourth and fifth teams (1st WC and 2nd WC) path to the championship.
No matter where the Jays finished in the Wild Card standings it was going to involve facing a tough AL opponent in the division series but they did fare better against the Astros during the regular season (4-2) compared to the Yankees (8-11). That was also before the Astros made some moves at the trade deadline to get stronger but it could potentially take the Yankees out of consideration if they fall in ALDS, otherwise, the Jays and the Bronx Bombers could face each other in ALCS if both teams advance that far.
Is Tropicana Field out of the picture?
While one of the main reasons for finishing first in the Wild Card was home-field advantage and playing in front of a home crowd, a secondary consolation prize for the Blue Jays is the possibility of bypassing playing at Tropicana Field (home of the Rays).
The Blue Jays have always struggled down in Tampa and their last postseason appearance saw the club get swept by the Rays in the 2020 AL Wild Card before they went on to make a run for the World Series (which they eventually lost).
While the Jays have dodged the Rays and Tropicana Field, for now, there is a potential that the two sides could meet in the ALCS should either team make it that far given the playoff schedule. A lot of dominoes would have to fall into place for that to happen but you never know with the MLB playoffs.
What are the World Series odds?
Looking at FanGraphs World Series odds, the Blue Jays are currently standing at 6.6%, trailing the Astros (17.7%), Dodgers (15.2%), Mets (13.5%), Braves (12.8%), Yankees (8.3%), and Padres (6.7%). They currently rank third ahead of the Rays, Guardians, and Mariners within the AL but only ahead of two teams in the NL in the Cardinals and Brewers/Phillies (whoever makes it out of that battle).