Olney believes wild-card spot still up for grabs for Blue Jays
It looked like the Toronto Blue Jays’ season was over after the team was swept at home by the Texas Rangers last week.
Toronto was outscored 35-9 in their four losses and were one-and-a-half games back of the Seattle Mariners for the final wild-card spot.
However, after a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox over the weekend, the Blue Jays find themselves right back in the thick of the wild card race, sitting in the second wild-card spot a game ahead of both the Mariners and Rangers.
"This whole wild-card thing has been completely wild, " ESPN's Buster Olney told TSN1050's First Up on Tuesday. "Mentally after the Blue Jays were swept by the Rangers I was thinking, 'Okay, I don't have to think about them anymore.' You were thinking that they're finished and there was no way they could pick themselves up after that kind of mess. But as of this morning the Blue Jays would be in the playoffs."
The Blue Jays finish the regular season with six games against the New York Yankees and six games against the Tampa Bay Rays beginning Tuesday with a three-game set at Yankee Stadium.
Toronto hasn't faced either of their AL East rivals since May and are 3-3 against each club on the season.
"I wouldn't want to face the Yankees right now," Olney said. "They have a good clubhouse culture with Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, and a bunch of young players that play with energy. Teams battling for the playoffs don't want to face a team who is feeling loose and having fun."
The Yankees were on the verge of their first losing season since 1992 after losing nine-straight games in August. But the team had since gone 16-9 and brought themselves to a 76-74 record.
"I think being in Yankee Stadium, the fans have gotten behind the players," said Olney. "The new guys they're playing out there seemed to have picked up an energy, I think they're playing very loose."
Olney believes that the Blue Jays will need to score early and often in order to have an easier time securing victories down the stretch.
"This is one of those games where you just have to jump on them," said Olney. "You don't want to give life to a team in this situation, especially when you're on the road. It would be really convenient for the Blue Jays to run out three runs in the first or second inning to give the Yankees an excuse."
"On paper, you'd think the Blue Jays would have an advantage, especially with the pitching matchups. But, I don't think a team with Judge, Anthony Volpe, and Gleyber Torres is going to just go away, you have to bury the team in this situation."
The Blue Jays are one of many teams involved in tight playoff races across baseballs
The Houston Astros' lead in the AL West has fallen to one-and-a-half games over the Mariners and Rangers after losing five of their past seven games, including two series losses to the lowly Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals.
Seattle was swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend and finish the season playing seven games against the Rangers and three against the Astros. While the Rangers have lost four-straight games after their sweep of the Blue Jays.
The race for the final two wild-cards spots is even closer in the National League, with the Arizona Diamondbacks holding a half-game lead over the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds for the second wild-card spot.
The Miami Marlins are a half game behind the Cubs and Reds for the final spot with the Giants two games out.
"We can make bold proclamations about the Oakland Athletics or the Atlanta Braves, [the teams] at the top and the bottom [of the league], but once you get into the middle, who knows?" said Olney. "There are so many zigs and zags with these teams. The Rangers' pitching staff is a mess, the Mariners have been slumping, and even the Astros have been beating good teams and losing to bad teams."