Blue Jays post-season success will reflect execution of various strategies
Photo credit:Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
By Nick Prasad1 month ago
Happy October and happy Postseason! The Toronto Blue Jays have punched their ticket to the 2023 Major League Baseball playoffs in an indirect fashion. With a huge Texas Rangers win and Seattle Mariners loss last night, the Blue Jays have secured their American League Wild Card spot.
Fate wasn’t exactly fully controlled in this process by Toronto, but that will have to change in a 48-hour period. After game 162, the slates are cleaned and each team is back to a blank drawing board, chasing the fall classic. The birds will face the Minnesota Twins on the road in Minneapolis.
With fresh new starts in fall baseball, the fundamentals of winning don’t change, if anything, they’re emphasized in playoff ball. Here are some keys to Toronto’s success in October…
Offensive Consistency and The Running Game
It is without a doubt that offence is pertinent, especially against any one of these postseason clubs. The Blue Jays are built for offensive success and have proven from time to time how dangerous this lineup can be. They’ve also shown how hitting is contagious in this lineup. To date, the Blue Jays are ranked 23rd of 30 teams for runners left in scoring position with an average of 3.61, which is actually satisfactory. They also rank eighth of 30 teams in on-base percentage with a total of .328.
Controlling their own running game will be a strong factor in getting guys into scoring positions and getting guys across. This is a weakness for the Jays, as they sit 22nd of 30 teams in stolen bags this season. Toronto has three players who have recorded 15-plus stolen bags this year: Whit Merrifield (26), George Springer (20), and Daulton Varsho (16).
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The Long Game vs. The Short Game
The Key here is fairly simple: out-homer your opponent. The Toronto lineup from top to bottom is expected to execute the long ball. Four Blue Jays this season smacked 20-plus dingers, eight in total hit over 10 dingers. The bats need to heat up, and names like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Matt Chapman need to produce.
If the long ball doesn’t work, the short needs to kick in with strategic playing, inclusive of the hit-and-runs, run-game, and bunt plays. The Blue Jays have the wheels to play this sort of game in the later innings but life will be a lot easier for them if they can smash some home runs early on.
Score First or Win the First Inning
The momentum needs to be built early on, when the Jays come out on top in the first inning, the game usually rolls out smoothly with less pressure on the bump and in the pen. It is foreseen that the postseason matchups may be pitcher’s duels, and early scored runs can be the difference in the game.
Game one of the best-of-three wild card matchups is probably the most important and this will set the tone. Kevin Gausman will be the guy for the Blue Jays in the series kick-off. Securing the first victory will put the team in a less stressful situation and will give momentum. Toronto has the arms to go the mile. In a best-of-five or seven series later in the playoffs, Gausman may get two opportunities if need be.
The close role is delicate. The Blue Jays employ Romano as the stopper, but can also platoon Jordan Hicks as a back-up or temporary closer. Contrasting the numbers in these situations may be beneficial.
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