The Toronto Blue Jays play in the tough American League East, where four teams, including themselves, are currently in contention for either the division or a Wild Card spot.
But that doesn’t mean we should leave them for dead already.
To the contrary: even though they are in fourth place in the division with a 56-49 record, they are seven games behind the leaders, the Tampa Bay Rays.
They will need to play excellent baseball from this point on, and minimize mistakes.
However, they have a good chance of making it all the way to October, and here is why.
3. They Are Not That Far Off
There are lots of games to be played among the AL East powerhouses, so if the Blue Jays can win most of their games against the Rays, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, they will be well-positioned.
Seven games is a lot, but is not an insurmountable difference.
And, additionally, they have the possibility of the Wild Card.
Right now, before Thursday’s games, they are three games behind the Oakland A’s for the second Wild Card spot.
The playoffs are a real possibility for the Blue Jays this year.
2. A Much-Improved Pitching Staff
The Blue Jays started the season with Hyun-Jin Ryu as an ace, and a lot of question marks after him.
However, after four full months of baseball, we can say with confidence that Toronto has a very good top five in the rotation.
Yes, it’s a stark difference compared to the bleak outlook of their pitching when the season started.
A few things happened: Steven Matz proved capable as a backend starter (4.30 ERA in 96.1 innings so far), Robbie Ray found his best command and is having the best year of his career (3.04 ERA in 124.1 frames), and rookie Alek Manoah developed quickly and is already a 2.47-ERA pitcher.
The pitching addition that may end up proving to be the master move is Jose Berrios.
José Berríos' first K as a Blue Jay was filthy. pic.twitter.com/BKvahYHUBW
— MLB (@MLB) August 1, 2021
The Blue Jays had to give up a couple of talented players in Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson, but Berrios is just the kind of arm they needed to round out their rotation.
Overall, the Blue Jays now have the pitching to seriously contend.
1. A Premier Offense
Astonishingly, the pitching is not the best unit for the Blue Jays.
Their offense is perhaps the best in the league, right up there with the Houston Astros and the Chicago White Sox.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (.322/.416/.647, 34 home runs) is competing for the Triple Crown.
Marcus Semien (.275/.340/.524, 25 dingers, 10 steals) is having quite the resurgent season.
And the offseason’s premier signing, outfielder George Springer, is finally healthy and raking: he was just crowned as the Player Of The Week in the AL and is up to .296/.380/.641 with 13 homers in limited action.
Joey Votto: 7 HR, 11 RBI, .375/.448/1.250 😤
George Springer: 3 HR, 7 RBI, .400/.516/.960 💪
— MLB (@MLB) August 2, 2021
The Blue Jays offense has no flaws and no shortcuts: each and every hitter is far from an “easy out”.
If the Blue Jays end up making the playoffs, it will likely be thanks to their explosive offense.