There are two main factors preventing the Toronto Blue Jays from making the playoffs: time and themselves.
In regards to the latter, the Blue Jays have been their own worst enemy the past three weeks. The Blue Jays are certainly a playoff-calibre team and worthy of defending their American League East title. But watching them play over the past 16 games in September, you’d hardly know it.
As Ross Atkins said, the Blue Jays control their own destiny. They cannot control time; they can only control how well (or poorly) they play the remainder of the regular season.
Ideally, the Blue Jays would’ve liked to win the American League East and coast comfortably into the playoffs. But at this point, I think the Jays would be relieved to simply stumble in as a Wild Card team. And the Blue Jays Magic Number to clinch a Wild Card spot currently sits at 12.
How many wins would get them there? Let’s pick 88 as an benchmark number. 87 wins would be more attainable for the floundering Blue Jays, but that extra win should be enough to help the Jays fend off any hard-charging Wild Card competitors and prevent another team from leapfrogging them in the standings.
Here are all the scenarios which could get the Blue Jays to 88 wins (and their closest Wild Card competitors).
Blue Jays: 81-68
Need to go 7-6 (win 7 of their next 13 games) to hit 88 wins
This is the absolute bare minimum one can ask from the Toronto Blue Jays to narrowly make it into the playoffs. All they need to do is rattle of 7 more wins in the next two weeks.
If the Jays win 2 of 3 against the Mariners, 2 of 4 against the Yankees, 2 of 3 against the Orioles and 1 of 3 against the Red Sox, that should be enough for the Blue Jays to secure a Wild Card.
No matter what else happens around them in the standings, reaching the 88 win plateau gives the Blue Jays a pretty good chance to be one of the two American League Wild Card teams.
On the flip side, playing .538 baseball down the stretch could prove to be a tall task for a team like the Blue Jays which has only won 7 of their past 19 games. The Blue Jays also haven’t won a series since August 31st in Baltimore.
So how are they ever going to win 7 of their next 13 games and score a few series wins in the span of only two weeks?
Need to go 9-4 (win 9 of their next 13) to hit 88 wins
A bonus for the Blue Jays; they own the season series record over the Tigers, thus holding the tiebreaker in a potential Wild Card tie. If the Blue Jays and Tigers tied for the Wild Card, the game would be hosted at the Rogers Centre.
Need to go 9-4 (win 9 of their next 13) to hit 88 wins.
Not only do the Blue Jays have an opportunity to boost their playoff aspirations with a solid series in Seattle, the Blue Jays can simultaneously crush the Mariners playoff dreams.
If the Mariners get swept by the Blue Jays, they can lose no more than 2 of their remaining 10 games after the Toronto series if the M’s want any shot at clinching a spot in the postseason.
The Blue Jays currently trail the Mariners in their season series 1-2, so they would need to take 2 of 3 to merely push the season series even to 3-3. A potential Wild Card tiebreaker would then go to the higher winning percentage in intradivision games.
Need to go 10-3 (or win 10 of next 13) to hit 88 wins
The same applies to the Astros as the Tigers; the Blue Jays hold the tiebreaker against them as well, so Toronto would be the home team in a potential Wild Card tiebreaker playoff game.
Need to go 11-2 (or win 11 of next 13) to hit 88 wins
Here’s a bonus for the Blue Jays; they are playing two of those teams down the stretch that they’re fighting off for a Wild Card spot; the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees.
If the Blue Jays simply split their four game set versus the Yankees at the Rogers Centre this week, the very best the Yankees could hope for is to tie the Blue Jays for a Wild Card spot. And the Yankees would need to win all other nine of their other games to even reach that point.