MLB Playoff Push: Blue Jays' sweep to Angels proves costly

Blair and Barker discuss why the Toronto Blue Jays young superstars need to lead by example throughout the final month of the season & how the big stars need to ask themselves if they're doing enough to win baseball games while going through a skid.

This was supposed to be a weekend of celebration for the Toronto Blue Jays and their fans.

The club was returning home after an impressive road trip through New York and Boston. Members of the 1992 World Series championship team were back in town to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the title. And the Los Angeles Angels, a top-heavy team destined to miss the post-season again, were the opponent.

Instead, the ceremony honouring the 1992 champs was the only highlight of what proved to be a horrific three-game set for the 2022 squad. The Angels outscored Toronto 22-3 — with two shutouts — and all the excitement following the road trip quickly evaporated.

To make matters worse, the teams the Blue Jays are competing with for wild-card spots kept winning and Toronto woke up Monday morning in the third spot, two games back of both the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners. With just 36 games left on the calendar, the Blue Jays can't afford many more weekends like the one they just had.

IF THE POST-SEASON BEGAN TODAY…
No. 1 Houston Astros (bye)

No. 2 New York Yankees (bye)

No. 3 Cleveland Guardians vs. No. 6 Toronto Blue Jays

No. 4 Tampa Bay Rays vs. No. 5 Seattle Mariners

Keep in mind that MLB has introduced a new, 12-team format for the 2022 post-season. Six AL teams and six NL teams will qualify for a straightforward bracket-style playoff. The top two seeds get a bye through the opening round. The No. 1 seed will then face the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup and the No. 2 seed meets the winner of No. 3 vs. No. 6 in the second round.

WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCE…
The Baltimore Orioles are the most likely team to disrupt the wild-card field as the other teams within striking distance are competing for the AL Central crown. Baltimore is currently 1.5 games back of the Blue Jays after taking two of three from first-place Houston over the weekend.

The Guardians (67-59) hold the AL Central lead but are only a half-game ahead of the Orioles in the overall standings. The Twins (65-61) and White Sox (63-65) are closer to the division title than the wild-card.

The Red Sox beat the Rays twice this weekend but poor showings against the Blue Jays and Orioles before that leave them on the very fringe of the race at this point.

PLAYOFF ODDS REPORT…
Here is what FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference are projecting, as of Monday morning, in terms of playoff odds among AL teams battling for the wild-card spots…

Toronto’s FanGraphs odds: 90.9% | Toronto’s Baseball-Reference odds: 65.8%

Seattle's FanGraphs odds: 94.2% | Seattle's Baseball-Reference odds: 92.6%

Tampa Bay’s FanGraphs odds: 85.6% | Tampa Bay’s Baseball-Reference odds: 70.2%

Cleveland’s FanGraphs odds: 66.5% | Cleveland’s Baseball-Reference odds: 70.0%

Baltimore’s FanGraphs odds: 8.5% | Baltimore’s Baseball-Reference odds: 49.6%

Minnesota’s FanGraphs odds: 38.0% | Minnesota’s Baseball-Reference odds: 31.4%

Chicago’s FanGraphs odds: 13.5% | Chicago’s Baseball-Reference odds: 9.3%

Boston’s FanGraphs odds: 17.6% | Boston’s Baseball-Reference odds: 7.2%

NOTABLE GAMES/SERIES THIS WEEK...

Cubs at Blue Jays, Blue Jays at Pirates: The Blue Jays have six games this week against two of the weakest teams in the National League, giving them a great chance to make up some of the ground lost this weekend. The highlight of the week just might be Tuesday, when Marcus Stroman makes his long-awaited return to Toronto when he starts for the Cubs.

Orioles vs. Guardians, Mariners vs. Guardians: The Twins made headlines with some big additions at the trade deadline but the Guardians have taken hold of the AL Central title in the weeks since. Cleveland is currently 15-10 in the month of August and is returning home after a 3-3 road trip against the Padres and Mariners. Things won't get any easier on the homestand with series against the Orioles and Mariners (again) back-to-back, but the Guardians have proven to be tough competition as of late.

Rays vs. Yankees: The top two teams in the AL East go head-to-head in a weekend series in the Bronx. The Rays (16-9 in August) have been on a roll, posting two separate six-game winning streaks in August. The Yankees (9-16 in August) remain in control of their own fate in the division-title race, but the Rays enter this matchup with much more confidence.

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