After another lackluster series loss to a key AL East opponent, Blue Jays manager John Schneider didn’t mince words. With 34 games left in the regular season, the Jays have fallen 1.5 games behind Houston and Seattle for one of the final two AL wild cards. So after a 5-3 loss to the surging Orioles in Baltimore Thursday, he let loose: “There’s no time to wait. We’ve got to do it right [expletive] now.’
That certainly echoes starter Kevin Gausman’s comments post-game the night before after a 7-0 shutout loss to the Orioles, when he said, “We're just waiting for that big stretch. We've kind of been waiting for it all year. Is it going to happen? I don't know. I hope it does. I hope it starts tomorrow, but we can't keep [waiting]. We've got to go now and we need a little bit more sense of of urgency.’
Over the next 16 days, the Blue Jays will play three games each at home against Cleveland and Washington, then go on a distant road trip for three game series at Colorado and Oakland, before returning home for an early September weekend series against Kansas City.
All of those teams have sub-.500 records, with Oakland and Colorado the respective bottom dwellers in the American and National leagues. In fact, those five teams have a combined winning percentage of only .383, i.e. they have only won 38% of their games, with Cleveland the best at .469, and Oakland the laggard at .289.
Applying that opponents’ 38% winning percentage to this next 15 game segment would suggest that Toronto should be able to win at least 9 of those games, which would get them to close to 79 wins with 19 games left in the regular season after that.
So far this season, Toronto is 2-2 head-to-head against Cleveland, 2-1 versus Oakland and 3-1 over Kansas City; they have yet to play the Nationals or Rockies.
From there, the Jays finish off the regular season with 19 games in 21 days versus Texas, Boston, New York and Tampa Bay. With 15 of those games against AL East opponents, and with only the Yankees below .500, it will likely be important for Toronto to pile up some wins now. The Jays have struggled to a 12-25 record versus AL East opponents this season, and are currently only 10-17 against those final four opponents in September.
Now is the time for a big winning streak. Assuming the Jays will need at least 90 wins for a wild card, they need 20 more wins in their remaining 34 games, which implies a .588 winning percentage and better than their current .547 rate. Let’s go Blue Jays!