The Toronto Blue Jays could find themselves in a playoff spot before the end of the week
[Update: after taking three of four games from the Kansas City Royals in Toronto, sweeping the Minnesota Twins at home in four games and sweeping the New York Yankees on the road in three games, the Jays now have an 82 per cent probability of making the playoffs. They currently hold the first Wild Card spot in the American League, but they now have their eyes set on the divisional lead in the American League East. They trail the Yankees by 1.5 games heading into a day of rest on August 10.]
According to MLB.com, the Toronto Blue Jays (54-52) now have 50-50 odds of making the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. That marks an 8 per cent improvement over their odds of making the playoffs from last Monday and just prior to general manager Alex Anthopoulos’ dramatic retooling of the team.
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Gone are popular players Jose Reyes, Daniel Norris and Danny Valencia, but in their place, the Jays now lay claim to David Price, Troy Tulowitzki, Ben Reveres and Mark Lowe. That’s an impressive and rich haul of new talent in less than a week and under the pressure of the non-waiver trade deadline. (Someone get Anthopoulos an extension!)
The odds given for the Jays are actually a bit misleading, however, in two respects.
Jul 23, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher David Price (14) pitches in the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
First, the Jays still find themselves below the Minnesota Twins (54-50) and the Baltimore Orioles (53-51) for the final Wild Card spot in the American League East while having fewer games left (-2) in their season. Having said this, the odds calculated by MLB go beyond just the standings and take into account “each team’s year-to-date run differential, current roster composition, playing time projections and remaining schedule.” It’s here that the Jays enjoy an advantage over both the Twins and the Orioles, and this is what propels them ahead in the probability race for the 2015 playoffs.
Second, the post-season odds for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (69 per cent) might be slightly inflated by their proximity to the division lead in the American League West. The Angels sit only three games back of the Houston Astros from the top, but this disguises the fact they’ve lost six games in a row and are 1-9 in their last 10 games. In other words, the Angels are crashing right now and it might take some time for the playoff probability metrics to reflect this. For the Jays, this means they might even have a good chance of securing the first Wild Card spot and home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Jul 31, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) celebrate the win during the eleventh inning in a game against the Kansas City Royals at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
After taking three of four games from the Kansas City Royals, the Jays look rejuvenated, tough to beat and ready for their next opponent: the Twins. Hosting Minnesota for four games at the Rogers Centre, the Jays have a solid opportunity to officially enter the playoff picture before the end of the week.
It really is bizarre: last week we were lamenting another inconsistent and uneventful season from the Jays. A week later and things look totally different with the Jays in a real and statistically probable (depending on the outcome of the next few games anyway) position to reach the playoffs.
Crazy stuff, no?
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