Taking a look at how the AL East is shaking out in the second half

A review of how the Blue Jays are performing compared to the rest of the AL East, and how it will potentially all play out in Major League Baseball's strongest division.
Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox / Winslow Townson/GettyImages
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In the understatement to end all understatements, things aren't going quite as planned for the Blue Jays. As of Thursday morning they are 73-61 and sitting 2.5 games out of the final AL Wild Card spot.

The Blue Jays shouldn't be in this position; not with the talent they have on their roster. And yet, this speaks to how the team has underachieved up to this point of the 2023 campaign.

With the Blue Jays' pitching combining for the second-lowest ERA in the Majors and backed up by excellent defence, the main culprit is undoubtedly the offence. They are tied-14th in scoring, effectively the definition of average in a 30-team league.

The question is, where do the Blue Jays go from here and how feasible is a playoff spot with less than five weeks remaining in the regular season? In theory it's still in their own hands -- at least mathematically -- but they truly need to buck up their ideas, beginning with how they perform versus the rest of their division.

As things stand, the Blue Jays are third in the AL East overall, but last with a 12-25 record versus the rest of the division specifically. For some context, the Yankees are second-worst at 16-26, while the Orioles lead the way at 26-15.

Red Sox fading

The Blue Jays have 15 games remaining versus the AL East, including three versus the Red Sox, as well as six against both the Yankees and Rays. Interestingly, the 15 games double as the final 15 of their regular season full stop.

The three games at home to the Red Sox could prove particularly crucial, pending the latter's own pursuit of a wild card spot. They have being fading of late, sitting at 69-65 and 4.0 games behind the Blue Jays, thus 6.5 out of the AL's final playoff place.

In respect of the head-to-head record, the Red Sox have a 7-3 advantage so have already won the season series and any potential tie-breaker. As such, the Blue Jays might (probably) want to hope their rivals are lacking motivation, i.e. have too big a gap to retrieve, by the time the series begins on September 15.

Not the Yankees of old

Turning to the Yankees, they are the only team in the AL East with a losing record, at 65-68. This is in large part due to a stretch earlier this month, which saw them lose nine straight games.

At the time of writing, the Yankees are 7.5 games behind the Blue Jays and 10.0 back of the final AL Wild Card spot. In this respect the season is pretty much over for the Yankees, who so far have a 4-3 advantage in the head-to-head games versus the Blue Jays.

As for the Rays, at 82-52 they are in an extremely strong position for a playoff spot. As of Thursday morning they have a 5.5 game advantage for the top AL Wild Card position.

Backed by equaling a modern-era Major League record of 13 wins to start the season, the Rays were nearly unstoppable in the early going. They've since returned to reality however, highlighted (or should that be low-lighted?) by a seven-game losing streak early in July.

Orioles vs. Rays for the AL East

In fairness though, the Rays still harbour realistic hopes of catching the Orioles for the division title. The Orioles have a 83-50 record and 1.5 game advantage over them at this stage.

The two teams will face each other in one more series, but it should be a beauty with four games in Baltimore. The Rays will have little margin for error if they're going to win the AL East, with the Orioles currently holding a 6-3 lead in the head-to-head season series.

One factor which could compromise the Orioles in respect of the Rays and in general, is their loss of Félix Bautista. The closer was placed on the 15-day Injured List on August 26, with a right elbow injury.

Bautista has been fantastic this season for the Orioles and will be sorely missed, however long he is out for. He has an outstanding 1.48 ERA, 1.89 FIP and 0.918 WHIP in 46 appearances, and is second in the AL with 33 saves (in 39 opportunities).

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Record

Last 10

Vs. AL East

Playoff %

Orioles

83-50

7-3

26-15

99.9 %

Rays

82-52

8-2

22-15

99.7 %

Blue Jays

73-61

5-5

12-25

43.5 %

Red Sox

69-65

3-7

19-14

4.8 %

Yankees

65-68

5-5

16-2

0.2 %

NB - All information up to and including August 30