Blue Jays: Toronto is a virtual lock-down for MLB playoffs

Gregory Strong, Canadian Press

Published Thursday, September 22, 2022 5:30 PM EST

With two weeks left in the regular season, the Toronto Blue Jays top the MLS wild card standings and have little chance of catching the New York Yankees in the East Division race.

Here’s a look at some numbers and storylines as the Blue Jays continue their road trip Thursday night with the opening of a big four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

numbers game

The Blue Jays are a virtual lock on qualifying for the playoffs thanks to a strong September that put some distance between them and teams chasing Toronto, Tampa Bay and Seattle for the three AL Wild Card locations.

The Toronto-Tampa Bay series can have a huge impact on the battle for the number one spot in the wild card, which comes with a best-of-three first-round domestic field advantage.

The first two tier winners win the farewell while the third tier winner hosts the third wild card team (seeded #3 vs. seed #6). The top wild-card team hosts the second wild card entry (No. 4 vs. No. 5).

Entering Thursday’s games, Toronto was ahead by two games over Tampa Bay and two and a half games over Seattle. The Baltimore Orioles had four games behind the Sailors.

The Houston Astros, the Western Division captain, was the only AL team to clinch a supplement berth.

The Eastern Yankees’ lead were six and a half games ahead in Toronto while the Cleveland Guardians’ lead were six games ahead of the Chicago White Sox.

October odds

The Blue Jays have a 98.6 percent chance of securing a wild card position and a 6.7 percent chance of winning the World Championship, FanGraphs odds out Thursday afternoon.

Toronto’s chances of winning the Eastern Division are listed at just 1.2 percent on the site.

After the Blue Jays’ current run ends on Sunday, the team will return to Rogers Center in a three-game series against the Yankees, followed by three games this weekend against the Boston Red Sox.

Toronto and Baltimore will conclude the campaign with three games at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. This series will conclude on October 5 with a late afternoon start.

Border changes

A Cabinet order imposing mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements at the border is expected to expire on September 30, potentially providing more options for opposing teams in potential playoff matches in Toronto.

Border restrictions on unvaccinated travelers have forced several clubs to add players to the restricted list of road games at Rogers Center this season.

Tampa Bay’s Brooks Raleigh missed a five-game streak in Toronto earlier this month. Rays teammate Ryan Thompson was also on the restricted list for the team’s trip north earlier in the season.

Loyal Mariners have put Drew Steckenrider on the no-go list for their only visit to Toronto this year. Starter Robbie Ray, who won the AL Cy Young award last year with the Blue Jays, did not make the trip.

Road Warriors

The main field advantage in a playoff series is usually team preference but the Blue Jays should be a confident group if they open their post-season down the road.

Coming into play on Thursday, Toronto has won 15 of its last 19 road games and boasted a 41-33 away record. The .554 Blue Jays win percentage ranked second in the AL after the Houston Astros.

The Toronto crime got away from home. Blue Jays AL leads in road rounds per game (5.15), road average (.267), percentage of road on base (.331), road slowdown percentage (.427) and road OPS (.758).

knows BO

Bo Bichette started at Blue Jays Shortstop this September and hadn’t given up about a week ago.

He had a sparkling hit average of 0.424 for the month in Thursday’s opener against Tampa Bay.

Bichette drove 23 in September and has a whopping monthly OPS of 1,267. He tops all hitters in the big leagues this month in hits, extra hits, total bases, and RBIs.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on September 22, 2022.

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