MLB playoff push: Boom-or-bust Blue Jays look to rebound against Yankees

Sportsnet's Ken Reid outlines how the MLB playoff bubble will work, ending with Arlington, Texas as the home for the World Series.

There’s a trend happening with the Toronto Blue Jays of late: When they win, they win — but when they lose, they really lose. Tuesday night’s blowout loss to the New York Yankees, the outcome of which looked more like a football score than one we’d see at a baseball diamond, was no exception.

Toronto’s lop-sided 18-1 loss to the New York Mets on Friday (lopsided, as in 18-1) saw Toronto rally back with a pair of wins to claim the weekend series, so we’ll soon find out if that’s another trend that continues as they prepare for the second and third instalment of what is an important divisional series against the Yankees Wednesday and Thursday.

Lead Off with Ziggy and Scotty Mac
Dissecting the Blue Jays' blowout loss to the Yankees
September 16 2020

Here’s a closer look at where they stand in the MLB playoff picture…

If the playoffs began today
The top two teams in each division make the playoffs along with the top remaining two teams from each league for a total of 16 playoff teams. Those 16 teams will then face off in eight best-of-three series that precede the League Division Series.

If the post-season began today, these eight American League teams would qualify:
No. 1 Chicago White Sox vs. No. 8 Cleveland Indians
No. 2 Tampa Bay Rays vs. No. 7 Toronto Blue Jays
No. 3 Oakland Athletics vs. No. 6 Houston Astros
No. 4 Minnesota Twins vs. No. 5 New York Yankees

And these eight National League teams would qualify:
No. 1 Los Angeles Dodgers vs. No. 8 San Francisco Giants
No. 2 Chicago Cubs vs. No. 7 Philadelphia Phillies
No. 3 Atlanta Braves vs. No. 6 St. Louis Cardinals
No. 4 San Diego Padres vs. No. 5 Miami Marlins

How seeding works in 2020: According to MLB, the top three seeds in each league go to the three division winners in order of record. The next three seeds go to the three teams that finish second in their division, in order of record. The final two seeds will go to the two teams with the next best records, regardless of division.

In striking distance
In the American League, there’s a pretty clear divide between those in the playoff picture and those outside of it. The Seattle Mariners’ strong stretch run has them as the closest team currently outside the playoffs, but they’re still four wins off pace of the final wild card spot with little hope of breaking in. On the Mariners’ heels are the Detroit Tigers, just one game back of Seattle.

Meanwhile, in the National League, playoff spots are a little more up for grabs. The Cincinnati Reds (.480 win percentage) and Colorado Rockies (.468) are knocking on the door.

Playoff odds report
Objectively speaking, here’s where the Blue Jays stand in relation to their closest adversaries, according to FanGraphs and FiveThirtyEight:

Blue Jays’ FanGraphs odds: 97.5% | Blue Jays’ FiveThirtyEight odds: 97%

Seattle’s FanGraphs odds: 3.6% | Seattle’s FiveThirtyEight odds: 6%

Detroit’s FanGraphs odds: 1.9% | Detroit’s FiveThirtyEight odds: 3%

Next up
The Blue Jays will send Tanner Roark to the mound Wednesday while the Yankees will counter with Gerrit Cole. Meanwhile, the Mariners will face the Giants and the Tigers will take on the Royals.

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