Adrian Kraus/Associated Press
For the first time since 2016, the Toronto Blue Jays are heading to the postseason.
Toronto (30-27) locked up a wild-card berth with Thursday’s 4-1 victory over the New York Yankees. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s solo home run and Bo Bichette’s and Alejandro Kirk’s RBI doubles paced Toronto’s offense, and Hyun-Jin Ryu threw seven shutout innings for the win.
Earning a playoff berth in the shortened 60-game season was no small task for the Blue Jays, even with the expanded field, considering they had to battle the Tampa Bay Rays (37-20) and New York Yankees (32-25) in the strong American League East.
The Rays clinched the AL East. The Blue Jays, who are two games behind the Yankees for second, can still jump New York in the standings with three games left. Regardless of where the two teams finish in the division, though, both will move on.
Along with the three AL East teams, the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Minnesota Twins and Cleveland have also qualified for the postseason. The Houston Astros are in the driver’s seat for the eighth and final AL playoff spot.
Toronto will likely go as far as its offense can take it, particularly with an outfield of Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Randal Grichuk all having big seasons. Add in Guerrero and Cavan Biggio and the Blue Jays are a threat to opposing rotations.
It’s the team’s rotation that could really smother its title hopes. While Ryu has been solid and Taijuan Walker hasn’t been bad since he was acquired, the rest of the rotation has bordered on hopeless for Toronto.
If the starters can hand the bullpen a lead in the later innings, Toronto is in business as the relievers have performed well this year, led by Jordan Romano, Rafael Dolis, Anthony Bass and A.J. Cole.
But if the Blue Jays aren’t slugging, it’s tough to win given the poor starting pitching. That limits Toronto’s upside, but the team is capable of making a run.