Toronto Blue Jays Limp Into the Postseason
The Toronto Blue Jays win the American League East! This is the great news. Those are words not spoken since the Jays took the division in 1993. Skeptics– as well as the realists and the team’s fans (who can hardly believe where they are now after years of futility) – must wonder: So, what is the (seemingly inevitable) bad news?
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Well, I may have given it away with my title, but yes, the Jays aren’t exactly riding the train of momentum into the postseason. The team has lost four of five games, and to teams that aren’t world-beaters (Tampa Bay and Baltimore were not playing for anything). Some may say, Well, these games are like their World Series since they are not able to get there… This is an optimists’ approach for the Jays if anyone holds this view.
The consequences of this limping over the finishing line is that the Jays conceded first-place to the Kansas City Royals. This means, if the Jays face KC, they will not have home-field advantage. However, if the Jays face any other team (even if the World Series), the Jays will open at the Rogers Centre… better known by fans as the Skydome.
Perhaps though, this limp may have been intentional. The reason for this obviously has benefits, or else the Jays probably would’ve played their starters for more of their final games then they did (including starting pitchers).
Oct 4, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher David Price (14) looks on against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The possible reasons… well the pros are mainly twofold. Firstly, obviously, manager John Gibbons gets to rest his players (some of them, aging) who may be tired from a long season without many gaps or time for rest.
The second is a matter of avoidance. I don’t care that the Jays took care of the Yankees pretty handily in the regular season. The Jays went 13-6 against New York this season (including 8-2 at home, where they would yield home-field advantage if they faced one another in the postseason) according to Baseball Reference.
However, it’s still the Yankees. They somehow always find a way to get it done… and get that clutch hit. They never seem to be out of it until the last out. Also, as a team, the Yankees have a playoff pedigree and mystique… especially at Yankee Stadium (new or old).
They haven’t been to the dance since 2012, but hello, the Jays haven’t been there since 1993! The Yankees are still the Yankees, and I’d be weary of them. Let’s avoid them if at all possible…
The consequence of avoiding this is that the Jays have to play the other hottest team in the majors, the Texas Rangers, in the American League Division Series. But don’t worry! The hottest team since the All-Star break is yours truly, these Blue Jays.
If this was the tactic, I agree with it. This means that instead of having to defeat both stalwarts, the linchpin Yankees and the defending American League champions, the Kansas City Royals– who will have to face one another (if the Yankees win the wildcard game tonight, versus the ahead-of-schedule Houston Astros)– the Jays will only have to face one of these teams in the playoffs, in the American League Championship Series (provided they all advance there).
The Jays will face Yovani Gallardo and the Texas Rangers in game one Thursday mid-afternoon matching up against Toronto’s ace David Price. The timing of the Jays’ games… well that’s another story in itself.
You can blame the team I’m crediting the Jays with avoiding– those AL East rival Yankees– for the silly mid-afternoon times and the American networks who want their prospective games at primetime, rather than the most exciting team in baseball in the evening. Don’t worry though, fans… the ALCS will undoubtedly be on at primetime.
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