What history can tell us to expect about the Blue Jays in crunch time
Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
4 months ago
It’s true that the 2022 Blue Jays have been incredibly streaky.
However, the team is in a much better position to make the playoffs than the 2021 Blue Jays. In fact, coming into September, it looked as if the Jays were out of the race.
Let’s take you back all the way to August 31st, 2021.
A painful flashback:
In their last 14 games, they are 6-8, with some embarrassing series losses to the Washington Nationals and the Detroit Tigers (at home). At this point, the Toronto Blue Jays had a record of 69-62 and sat four and a half games back of the second wildcard spot.
Then the calendar flipped to September, and 2021 took off. On the first, they beat the (bad) Baltimore Orioles 5-4.
Two days later, they came back from an 8-2 deficit in the bottom of the 8th, and a 10-8 deficit in the bottom of the ninth against the Oakland Athletics. They swept that three game series against the A’s, who had three games on the Jays heading into the series.
Their next series was against the New York Yankees, who were 4.5 games ahead of the Jays. The Blue Jays swept that four game series in convincing fashion, and only sat a half game back of the final wild card spot on September 9th.
They lost game one of a four game series against the Orioles, before bouncing back in their next three games. This included a doubleheader where the Jays were down 10-5, before rallying in the bottom of the 7th to tie the game at 10.
At this point, the Jays are 11-1 in the month of September and actually sit in the first wild card spot. The next series up was against the American League East leading Tampa Bay Rays, where the Jays won 2 of three. The Jays still sat comfortably in the first wildcard spot, a half game up on the Yankees.
The Jays then took two of three against the Minnesota Twins, falling to the second wild card, but now they are a game and a half up on the Yankees. After the September 19th game, the Jays had a record of 15-3 and had rallied from 4.5 games down, to 1.5 games up for the final wildcard spot.
Over their next three series (10 games), they faltered. The Blue Jays lost their first series of the month against the Tampa Bay Rays, split a four game series against the Twins, before losing a huge series against the Yankees. On September 30th, the Jays were only one game back of the final wildcard spot and finished the month 19-9.
You know the rest of the story, the season came down to the last day. The Blue Jays did their job sweeping the Orioles, but need a Tampa win (playing the Yankees) or a Washington (playing the Red Sox) win.
Sadly, the Yankees won 1-0 against the Rays, while the Red Sox came back from a 5-1 deficit in the fifth to win the game, eliminating the Blue Jays from playoff contention.
Snap back to reality:
It’s August 31st, 2022. The Jays have a 70-59 record, two games better than what they had last season. Not just that, but there’s an extra wild card spot. At this point, the Jays sat two games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for the opportunity to play the AL Central team in a three game set.
Before the month flipped to September, they had just gotten swept by the awful Los Angeles Angels before taking two of three against the awful Chicago Cubs, for a record of 2-4 over their last six. In the eight games prior, they won 7, one against the Orioles, three against the Yankees, and a sweep of the Red Sox.
They played the awful Pirates in the first three games of the month, winning all three. To reach the present day, they beat the Baltimore Orioles in a doubleheader, winning both games convincingly.
So far in September 2022, they have started the month white hot, going 5-0. Not just that, they are now 4.5 games up on the Baltimore Orioles for the third wildcard spot. If they win their next two games (Tuesday and Wednesday), they’ll move to six and a half games up with 27 games remaining.
There’s still time for the Orioles to make up those games, as they’ll face the Jays eight more times (which includes the two last games in the series). Furthermore, only six games of those 27 games will be against teams with a record under .500.
With all that being said, the Jays are in a much better position than they were just a year ago to make the playoffs. For one, there is an additional playoff spot, but the team is also better than last years’ version.
While the schedule is tough (playing the Orioles eight times and the Rays nine times), there is a lot of optimism that this team will make the 2022 playoffs. And once they get in, all a team needs to do is go on a hot streak at the right time. Ask the 2019 Washington Nationals or the 2021 Atlanta Braves.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
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