Blue Jays still control playoff destiny despite ill-timed shutouts
The Toronto Blue Jays’ roller coaster ride to clinching a playoff spot continued following Wednesday’s shutout loss to the New York Yankees. It was the second consecutive game the Jays have failed to score against their division rivals.
Despite losing three of their past four games, the Jays (87-70) remain in control of their postseason hopes and still have a 90.5 per cent of making the playoffs, according to FanGraphs.
Toronto’s magic number to qualify for the postseason remains three and the club can clinch a wild-card berth as soon as Friday.
Consistency at the plate continued to be a problem for the Blue Jays, as the team has managed just five hits over its past 18 innings. They have now been shut out six times at the Rogers Centre this season and an MLB-high 11 times since June 19.
“You understand that you’re facing two really good pitchers in the last two nights, as good as you’re going to see,” manager John Schneider said following Wednesday’s game. “You have Chris Bassitt on the mound tomorrow and you go try to win. That’s it. You’re taking it one day at a time.”
Toronto sits in the second wild-card spot with a 1.5 game lead on the Houston Astros. The Seattle Mariners, who have fallen out of playoff position after losing five of their past six games, sit 0.5 games back of the Astros for the final wild-card spot.
Addressing the suddenly cold bats, Schneider said that the club will need to find ways to beat elite pitchers like the Yankees’ duo of Michael King and Gerrit Cole, who have combined for 15 shutout innings in the series.
“Usually, with those types of guys, whether it’s Michael King or Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow, they’re going to give you something to hit early,” said Schneider. “They’ll be in the zone early and try to expand the zone a little later. It’s a combination of being ready to hit, but at the same time, you’ve got to do damage.”
If the Jays do qualify for the playoffs, they will either run into the Tampa Bay Rays duo of Glasnow and Zach Eflin, or the Twins pair of Sonny Gray and Pablo Lopez.
With four games remaining in the regular season, the Blue Jays will need to figure out how to kickstart an offence that sits 18th in home runs and 16th in runs scored.
The Blue Jays have one more game against the Yankees in tonight’s series finale before the Rays visit for a three-game series to finish the regular season, though neither Eflin nor Glasnow are scheduled to pitch during the series. Instead, the Jays bats have the chance to break out of their slump against the bottom of the Tampa Bay rotation in Aaron Civale, Zack Littell, and Taj Bradley.