Path to Playoffs: How the Blue Jays Can Make the 2021 Postseason – Sports Illustrated

The Toronto Blue Jays have 23 games remaining to improve their 2021 playoff chances

The Blue Jays have thrust themselves back into the conversation.

They are no longer on the outskirts of a playoff race, they are well within it, controlling their own destiny for the rest of the season. As of Thursday, September 10th, Toronto’s postseason odds are:

Baseball Reference: 59.9%

FanGraphs: 52.4%

FiveThirtyEight: 52%

Sitting a half-game back of the second wildcard spot (1.5 back of home-field advantage in the one-game playoff), the Blue Jays have 23 games remaining to improve their playoff odds and position themselves for postseason baseball.

Those remaining games come against:

Blue Jays Remaining Schedule: (With opponent win percentage)

4 @ Baltimore (.324)

3 vs Tampa Bay (.629)

3 vs Minnesota (.443)

3 @ Tampa Bay (.629)

4 vs Minnesota (.443)

3 vs New York (.557)

3 vs Baltimore (.324)

Opponent Win Percentage: .470

Key Competition:

Screen Shot 2021-09-10 at 9.10.15 AM

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Sandwiched in between these four teams jockeying for wildcard positioning, the Jays have the second-easiest remaining schedule (by opponent win percentage). 

Key Series:

At this point in the season, every game and series matter and they have for some time. But the Blue Jays have just three series left against teams with an above .500 record, and only one against a team near them in the standings: September 28-30 against the New York Yankees, in Toronto.

After completing a four-game set against New York earlier this week, the Blue Jays sit 10-6 against the Yankees on the season. The late-season series will be both squad’s second-last series of the year, and one final opportunity to potentially control their own fate within the wildcard race.

The Jays are 39-29 at home this season (Yankees 38-31 on the road), and New York has yet to play Toronto north of the border in 2021. There are over two weeks of games to be played before the late-September meeting, but this final New York/Toronto matchup will certainly have significance.

Key Number:

91.

The current pace for the second wildcard spot in the AL playoffs is 90.2 wins, set by New York’s 78-62 record. To reach the mark of 91 wins the Blue Jays must finish the season 14-9. 

Toronto’s current win rate of .554 would pace them for 89.7 wins, and there’s no way to know how many wins will be required until after 162. Over 90 wins have been enough for a wildcard spot before, but there are years when the WC2 belongs to a team with over 95 wins. 

The Blue Jays are putting together the type of stretch needed to force their way back into contention, but the next 23 games will decide how far they go. Right now, all the Blue Jays need to do is win games, and they know it:

“This is a time where we’re either planning vacations or we’re making that push,” Alek Manoah said.