As September dawned, the Blue Jays were 4 1/2 games back of the Red Sox for the last wild card in the AL. How things have changed in two weeks.
What did Andy Warhol say about change? “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself,” the artist once said.
Well, the Jays have certainly decided to change things themselves. Toronto is 12-1 in September, charging past four teams to put themselves into the #1 wild card spot. The offense has led the way: the Blue Jays have scored at least eight runs in eight of their 13 games this month. The are averaging 8.8 runs per game, which means the Jays are not just beating teams; they’re pummeling them.
Will Jays Hold Their Playoff Spot?
The Jays surge is impressive, and reminiscent of the Rockies run in 2005, which led that team to the World Series. But Toronto is an even more balanced team, with a dangerous lineup, good starting pitching, a capable bullpen, and solid defense. While still a young group, the Jays are a much better team this year than last, and they’re hot at the perfect time.
Mixed Bag Schedule
Toronto has seven games left against the Twins, who are playing for nothing. They also play Baltimore three more times, against whom they are 11-5 this season. On the other hand, the Jays play Tampa Bay five more times, and the Yankees three times in a series the last week of the season that may determine a playoff spot for both teams.
Could Toronto Win the Pennant, World Series?
The American League has two teams that stand apart from everyone else: Tampa Bay and Houston. But the best team doesn’t always win the pennant. Seven wild card teams have won the World Series, most recently in 2019 when the National did it.
The Jays lost four of the six games they played against the Astros this season, and entering Tuesday’s game, Toronto is just 6-8 against the Rays.
Jays vs. Rays Could Be Playoff Preview
But the Blue Jays are hitting their stride and if they win the wild card game (possibly hosted at The Rogers Center) could knock off anyone in a five game series. The second round opponent would likely be Tampa Bay, so these games between the two in September could provide a preview for October playoff action.
Odds For Toronto To Win Pennant, World Series
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Jays are +750 to capture the pennant, and +1600 to win the World Series
Has Vlad Guerrero Jr. Done Enough To Catch Ohtani for MVP?
You can’t do much more than Vlad Guerrero Jr. is doing this season for Toronto. The 22-year old leads the AL in batting, home runs, runs scored, hits, slugging, on-base percentage, total bases, and offensive wins above replacement. He’s having an epic season made all the more amazing by the fact that he was born in the last full year of the Bill Clinton administration. You know what didn’t exist when Vlad Jr. was born? The camera phone, YouTube, and the final Star Wars trilogy.
But even with his monster season and late season heroics (Vlad The Younger is batting .364 with 6 homers this month), Guerrero Jr. is not the favorite to win the AL Most Valuable Player Award.
According to DraftKings, Shohei Ohtani of the Angels is at -5000 for the MVP, with Guerrero Jr. coming in at -1400. Those odds have narrowed some in the last three weeks, but not much. Ohtani is a freak: he’s tossing his way to a great season as a pitcher, and he is challenging Guerrero for the league lead in HR and RBI. We haven’t seen a multi-threat like this since a certain actor decided to forge a career as a singer.
It’s possible, in fact very possible, that Guerrero Jr. will win the Triple Crown and still finish second in MVP voting. Ouch. The last time that happened was in 1947, when Ted Williams lost the MVP despite winning the Triple Crown. Who won the award that year? A fella named Joe DiMaggio.
Robbie Ray Is Leader For Cy Young Award
DraftKings has Toronto lefty Robbie Ray at -160 to win the AL Cy Young Award, with Gerrit Cole at -140. This should be one of the best races for an award in MLB. But I think the odds makers are missing something here: while Cole has name recognition on his side, he will suffer from New York backlash from some voters.
Ray leads the league in ERA and strikeouts, which should be enough to sway voters for the Cy Young Award. Ray will make his next start Wednesday against the Rays. A dominant start in that crucial game will go a long way to staving off Cole of the Yankees.
Your Special Baseball Moment Of The Week
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Last week in a game played in Miami between the Marlins and Mets, a special breakfast cereal made an appearance behind home plate. The reaction to it and the strike call the cereal makes, is pretty funny.