With just under three weeks left in the regular season the American League Wild Card race is exactly that- wild! Boston, Toronto and New York are all in a position to make a run in the postseason. Oakland and Seattle are both right there but do they have the fire power to make it through September? With only two teams moving on it might be a tighter race than expected. After this week it looks like it will come down to a three team race- all coming out of the East. With the Yankees and Red Sox continuing a streaky season, the Blue Jays are proving why they are also in contention for a playoff spot.
Toronto Blue Jays (82-64)
Following a four game sweep of the Yankees last week and a historic weekend, the Blue Jays have found themselves in the middle of the AL Wild Card race. Toronto put up 44 runs in 3 games last weekend and set an MLB record scoring 27 in four innings against Baltimore. With Vlad Guerrero Jr. making a run at the triple crown and MVP the Blue Jays look unstoppable in the American League. Bo Bichette, Marcus Semien and Teoscar Hernandez have also highlighted a Toronto lineup that is 12-2 in September. With Robbie Ray serving as the staff’s ace the Jays have the stopping power they need on the mound heading into a Wild Card game.
After losing in the American League Wild Card game to the Rays in 2020, Toronto is eager to get another shot at a playoff run. The Blue Jays’ offense ranks second in all of baseball which has kept them in the playoff hunt thus far. Their late season playoff push continued this week as they took two of three from Tampa Bay. Robbie Ray put together another quality start Wednesday (7IP, ER, 13K’s) and the Jay’s bats remained on fire.
With series’ against the Yankees and Rays down the stretch the Blue Jays will be tested. However, if the lineup can stay hot and the bullpen does its job then Toronto will be scary heading into October. I know, much easier said than done.
Boston Red Sox (83-65)
Boston is too familiar with the position they found themselves in heading into this year. Similar to 2020, the Red Sox finished in last place in 2012 then went on to win the World Series in 2013. Though their starters are only averaging about 5 innings per start they still rank in the top five as a unit. With Chris Sale’s recent return they finally have their ace back and look to stay hot through September. Not only has the pitching staff stepped up, but the Red Sox lineup has come together as of late. Kike Hernandez has been the utility player they’ve needed and also brings tremendous energy to the clubhouse. With J.D. Martinez having another solid year and Schwarber adding depth to the lineup the Red Sox look to ride this momentum into October.
Boston just took two of three games against Seattle to maintain their hold in the Wild Card race. With two more series against Baltimore the Red Sox arguably have the easiest remaining schedule of the three teams. With enough experience and firepower to make a run in the postseason they look to add another title and go from worst to first.
New York Yankees (82-64)
New York is continuing what has been a roller coaster year. In August, they went 21-8 while maintaining a 13 game winning streak. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton both had great months hitting a combined .341 with 17 HR and 51 RBI. Since then, however, it has been a different story. The lineup and bullpen that was once surging must now find an answer heading into mid-September. Gerrit Cole is putting up Cy Young numbers but with injuries to the bullpen more pressure is put on the starting rotation.
The Yankees just took two of three from Baltimore and have upcoming series in Boston, Toronto and Tampa Bay. Stressful, late September baseball is becoming a norm for Yankee fans. Health always seems to the big issue down the stretch and this year is no different. With pieces of the rotation and bullpen returning, the Yankees are hoping to return to mid-August form. On paper, New York has the pieces to win another championship- but this is fall baseball where anything can happen.
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