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Blue Jays Closing in on Struggling Rangers in MLB Playoffs

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As the Toronto Blue Jays navigate their schedule, they’re closing the gap on teams lower in the MLB standings. Notably, they’ve been steadily catching up to the Texas Rangers, who have struggled with a 4-13 record over their last 17 games. Following a crucial 6-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Monday, the Blue Jays were guaranteed to gain ground on either the Rangers or the Houston Astros, who were starting their final series against each other.

MLB Playoff Race Update

However, the Astros managed to win the series opener, prevailing 13-6, and scoring six runs in the seventh inning. Consequently, the Blue Jays slipped half a game behind the Rangers for the final AL wild-card spot. On Tuesday, the Rangers received a boost with the return of right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the mound for the first time since July 18. They faced off against Framber Valdez as they aimed to turn their fortunes around.

Adding to the excitement, former New York Mets teammates Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander were set to compete as AL West rivals in the series finale on Wednesday.

For the Blue Jays, witnessing the teams they are chasing face off against each other could work in their favor, provided they continue to secure victories. As September baseball unfolds, let’s take a closer look at the overall AL wild-card picture.

Current Wild Card Standings

If the postseason began today, the playoff picture would look like this:

  1. AL East-Leading Baltimore Orioles (86-51): Bye
  2. AL West-Leading Seattle Mariners (77-60): Bye
  3. AL Central-Leading Minnesota Twins (72-66) vs. No. 6 Texas Rangers (76-61)
  4. Tampa Bay Rays (83-55) vs. No. 5 Houston Astros (78-61)
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In the Hunt

All three AL West teams in contention for the playoffs struggled in recent series. The Mariners lost two of three to the Mets, the Astros were swept by the Yankees, and the Rangers managed only one win against the Twins, thanks to Adolis Garcia’s walk-off home run.

This provided opportunities for both the Blue Jays and Red Sox to gain ground. Toronto and Boston secured series wins against the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals, respectively. However, the New York Yankees are also surging, winning six of their last seven games and now trailing the Rangers by eight games.

While the Yankees face an uphill battle, their recent resurgence poses a threat to teams like the Blue Jays, who still have games against the revitalized New York squad on their schedule.

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Key Matchups This Week

  • Seattle Mariners: The Mariners started September with a 1-3 record after an impressive 21-6 August. They are currently on a 10-game road trip, facing the Reds and then the Rays in a four-game series. With only six games left against non-playoff contenders, Seattle’s performance in September could be decisive.
  • Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays are also struggling in September, opening their series against the Red Sox with a loss. Their schedule is daunting, featuring seven consecutive series against teams fighting for postseason berths.
  • Houston Astros: Houston faces a challenging schedule this week, concluding their series against Texas before welcoming the San Diego Padres for a weekend series. Despite the Padres’ subpar record, they recently swept the San Francisco Giants, making them a formidable opponent.
  • Texas Rangers: The Rangers aim to maintain their position by winning the final two games against Houston and then facing the A’s. Their bullpen and starters have been inconsistent recently, highlighting the importance of Nathan Eovaldi’s return.
  • Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays must capitalize on their upcoming games against the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals, as this stretch is their last chance to face non-division opponents outside of a critical series against the Rangers.
  • Boston Red Sox: Boston faces one of the toughest remaining schedules in baseball, with only seven of their final 24 games against sub-.500 teams. Winning series against teams above .500 has been a challenge for them, and their upcoming matchups against Zach Eflin and Tyler Glasnow present further obstacles.

Playoff Odds

Here are the current playoff odds according to FanGraphs and Baseball Reference for the AL teams in the playoff race:

  • Baltimore Orioles: FanGraphs odds – 100%, Baseball Reference odds – >99.9%
  • Seattle Mariners: FanGraphs odds – 79.9%, Baseball Reference odds – 78.6%
  • Minnesota Twins: FanGraphs odds – 96.8%, Baseball Reference odds – 97.6%
  • Tampa Bay Rays: FanGraphs odds – 99.6%, Baseball Reference odds – 99.7%
  • Houston Astros: FanGraphs odds – 92.3%, Baseball Reference odds – 87.0%
  • Texas Rangers: FanGraphs odds – 61.4%, Baseball Reference odds – 68.4%
  • Toronto Blue Jays: FanGraphs odds – 59.1%, Baseball Reference odds – 63.7%
  • Boston Red Sox: FanGraphs odds – 7.4%, Baseball Reference odds – 2.5%
  • New York Yankees: FanGraphs odds – 0.3%, Baseball Reference odds – 0.1%

The playoff race is heating up, and every game counts as these teams vie for postseason berths.

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