In what has turned into one of the most surprising developments of the second half of the MLB season, the Toronto Blue Jays are back in the AL East race.
At the All-Star break, the Blue Jays trailed the Yankees by 13 games in the division.
Now on August 21st and with 43 games left for Toronto, they have cut their deficit in the AL East to seven games.
Part of the reason for that is how bad the Yankees have been in August.
The Yankees are the worst team in the MLB in August.
Their record is 4-14 this month and New York has lost six consecutive series.
While the Yankees continue to implode, the Blue Jays have taken full advantage.
Toronto is 15-11 since the All-Star break and they have won four straight games against the Yankees.
With a chance to sweep them on Sunday and make it five straight wins against the AL East leaders.
One reason for the success of Toronto is that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has started to get hot.
During the second-half Guerrero has hit .313 with six home runs and 16 RBIs.
The All-Star starter has even played great defensively this season.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has become an elite defensive first baseman this season.
Ranks among AL first baseman
• 7 defensive runs saved (1st)
• 6 scoops (1st)
• 3 OAA (t-1st)
• 2 RAA (t-1st) pic.twitter.com/G4AesV70mE
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) August 12, 2022
In what has been a down season for Guerrero, relative to last year, he seems to be coming on at the right time.
They also have received big power numbers from Matt Chapman who they acquired in the offseason.
Chaman has seven home runs since the All-Star break and 24 for the season.
The breakout player for the Blue Jays is Alejandro Kirk who has been the better hitting catcher in all of baseball.
The All-Star is hitting .307 and tied with Guerrero for a team-high 3.7 WAR.
The Blue Jays have two starting pitchers that have carried them all season.
Gausman is coming off a game where he dominated the Yankees for seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.
Kevin Gausman's splitter was untouchable.
— MLB (@MLB) August 20, 2022
His 149 strikeouts are the sixth most in the AL and the offseason signing of Gausman is paying off for Toronto.
Manoah has been a workhorse for the Jays, his 142.2 innings pitched are the fifth most in the American League.
But, for any team to be successful it must have a good bullpen.
There has not been a bullpen better than the Blue Jays since July 11th.
Their 2.11 ERA since then is the best baseball and that is a big reason why this team is back in the race.
Closer Jordan Romano has been exceptional the day month as well.
He has recorded six saves to go with a 1.64 ERA and .125 batting average against.
Toronto came into the season as a favorite to some to take home their division title.
After a bumpy season until this point, the Jays have themselves in a position to make a late push for the AL East crown.
This will be one of the best races over the final month and a half of the MLB season.
These two teams will meet for only one more series at the end of September, which could decide who wins the division.