Written by: Jeff Veillette
September 17, 2023
The Toronto Blue Jays remain in the thick of a tight playoff race this afternoon when they take on the Boston Red Sox. If they can a win today, it’ll mean a series sweep that somewhat makes up for the series before it, one of the most disappointing in the history of the team. With a chance to leave the Texas Rangers in the dust earlier this week, they did the opposite, pulling them out of their losing slump, dropping all four games to them, and getting absolutely rocked in the process, getting outscored 35-9.
Thankfully, between the two wins (and hopefully a third) against the Red Sox, and a helpful out of town scoreboard, there’s still a race to be had for two of the final three wild card spots in the American League. The Tampa Bay Rays have the first one effectively locked in, so it’s the Jays and three other teams in the mix for the final two.
(Since Aug 1)Make Playoffs
(bet365)Houston Astros83-6622-20-2500+1225Texas Rangers82-6622-20-500+360Toronto Blue Jays82-6723-19-200+165Seattle Mariners81-6726-16-190+160
The overwhelmingly good news for Toronto is that effectively speaking, “Toronto and three others” is really “Toronto and two others” As Houston, Texas, and Seattle are all in the AL West, one of them will have to take the division title, meaning they’ll be fighting with the two who have the second and third best records at the end of the regular season, which is roughly two weeks away now. Toronto and Houston have 13 games remaining, while Texas and Seattle have 14.
Playing to Toronto’s disadvantage, they arguably have the toughest schedule the rest of the way. After today, all of their remaining dozen games are against divisional foes in the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have had yet another sneaky good season, and while the Yankees played themselves out of the race in a hellish early-mid August, they’ve gone 14-5 since the 28th. Both teams also have the advantage against Toronto in their respective season series. Only Houston has done worse in-season against their remaining opponents, largely driven by the Astros’ 2-8 record against the Mariners.
All of the three other teams in contention also have a series left against a serious underdog opponent, which could help them pad their records. Texas has three games against the Angels, who shut down Shohei Ohtani earlier this weekend. Seattle has a series starting tomorrow against the 46-102 Oakland Athletics, and Houston has one later in the week against the 48-101 Kansas City Royals, though KC is currently giving them the gears in a weekend series – if they can do it twice in a week, that would be massive for the Jays.
Toronto Blue Jays To Make The Playoffs
The remaining schedules could also play to Toronto’s advantage, though. Where Toronto gets a lot of help here is that the Texas series was the last one they had against a team whose victories impacted them as much as their own losses. Barring miracles in opposite directions, the Rays are likely not going to fall off a cliff and concede their first wildcard spot (Toronto going 6-0 or 5-1 against them would be their biggest fear), and the Yankees, as hot as they’ve been, probably won’t make up six games of ground in the next two weeks. On the other end, Texas and Seattle still have to face each other seven times, and Seattle will also face Houston three times.
It’s hard to say what sort of outcome in the two Mariners/Rangers series would be more advantageous to Toronto. If you’re worried about getting home field advantage in the Wild Card round, you likely want a split, as it afford the Jays the best opportunity to eclipse both. If you’re just worried about getting in, decisive domination on one end would probably be best, as it would knock one team off the cliff.
Ultimately, though, it’s best that the Jays put themselves in the drivers seat. The team’s offensive struggles have led to much frustration throughout the season, and if there was a time to shake the cobwebs off the bats, it’s right now. At a time where you have a fanbase almost content with the team falling out of the mix in an effort to send a message to the powers that be that this roster and staff need to be built upon, there’s no better counter-programming to be had than dominating your division rivals the rest of the way.
As far as your own bet here, it’s really a toss up. bet365’s odds are relying a bit on hopeful money, as all four teams are slanted towards making the dance – which, given that three of them will, mostly makes sense. It’s up to you where to go from here – I’ve personally put a little bit on Toronto missing, but that’s less of a scientific choice and more of an emotional hedge, giving me either Blue Jays baseball into October or a little bit of extra bankroll. Your own process will obviously vary, though.