With two weeks left of the regular season, the Toronto Blue Jays lead the American League Wild League standings and have a lackluster chance of catching up with the New York Yankees in the East Division race.
Here are some numbers and backstory as the Blue Jays continue their ride Thursday night with the opening game of the big four game series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Blue Jays are a virtual padlock to qualify for the knockout stages thanks to a strong September that distanced them from the teams chasing Toronto, Tampa Bay and Seattle for the three AL wildcard slots.
The Toronto-Tampa Bay series could have a big impact on the battle for the top yellow card spot, which comes with home advantage in the first round of three games.
The two winners of the first division will say their goodbyes while the third place winner is the third home team (3rd seed vs 6th seed). The top wildcard team holds the second wildcard entry (number 4 vs. 5).
Going into Thursday’s game, Toronto had a two-game lead over Tampa Bay and a 2 1/2-game lead over Seattle. The Baltimore Orioles are four games behind the Mariners.
The West Division’s top Houston Astros are the only AL team to have won a playoff spot.
The Yankees lead the East with six and a half games on Toronto and the Cleveland Defenders lead the Central with six games on the Chicago White Sox.
The Blue Jays have a 98.6% chance of winning a wild card slot and a 6.7% chance of winning the World Series, according to FanGraphs odds as of Thursday afternoon.
Toronto’s chances of winning the Eastern Championship are listed at just 1.2% on the website.
After the Blue Jays’ current road trip ends Sunday, the team will return to Rogers Center for a three-game series against the Yankees, followed by a three-match weekend against the Boston Red Sox.
Toronto and Baltimore will wrap up the campaign with three games set at Oriole Park in Camden Yards. That series will end on October 5 and begin late afternoon.
The cabinet order to enforce mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements at the border is expected to expire on September 30, which could provide more options for opposing teams in the playoffs. potential in Toronto.
Border restrictions on unvaccinated visitors have forced some clubs to add players to a restricted list for road games at the Rogers Center this season.
Tampa Bay’s Brooks Raley missed a five-game streak in Toronto earlier this month. Fellow Rays keeper Ryan Thompson was also on the limited list for the team’s trip north earlier in the season.
The Mariners put the reliever Drew Steckenrider on the restricted list for their only visit to Toronto this year. Starter Robbie Ray, who won last year’s AL Cy Young Award with the Blue Jays, didn’t make the trip either.
WINNER OF THE WAY
Home advantage in the playoffs is usually a priority for teams but the Blue Jays will be a confident group if they open the post-season.
Going into Thursday’s game, Toronto has won 15 of its last 19 road games and has a 41-33 away record. The Blue Jays’ .554 lane win rate is second in the AL behind the Houston Astros.
Toronto’s attack was shining on the away field. The Blue Jays lead the AL in lane runs per game (5.15), average (.267), grip percentage (.331), skid rate (.427) and OPS on the road (. 758).
Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette started September in a tough September and didn’t give up after about a week.
He had a sparkling .424 batting average for the month in Thursday’s opening game against Tampa Bay.
Bichette drove 23 laps in September and has a monthly OPS of 1,267. He leads all the major league heads this month in hits, off-base hits, total bases and RBI.
This report by the Canadian Press was first published on September 22, 2022.
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