With the Toronto Blue Jays’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot down to one, they can soon turn their focus towards clinching another important milestone: home field advantage in the Wild Card series.
Any Blue Jays win or Orioles loss will secure Toronto a playoff spot, but the million dollar questions are: who will they play and where will they play that opening playoff series?
The Blue Jays only have six games left, but there are still plenty of dominos left to fall before the end of the regular season. With a 1.5-game lead over the Rays and two games up on the Mariners, the Jays still have a bit of a cushion.
If the Blue Jays finish in the top Wild Card position, they’ll host playoff games in Toronto for the first time since 2016. If they finish in the second or third Wild Card spot, they’ll have to play a best-of-three series entirely on the road.
But if Toronto wants to secure home field advantage in the Wild Card series, they need to surpass both Tampa Bay and Seattle by at least one game in the win column. It seems like a simple task, but with games left to play, anything can happen.
As it stands, the Mariners and Rays hold tiebreakers over the Blue Jays, meaning if they finish with the same record, the Mariners or Rays would get all three home games in their ballpark.
The Blue Jays mostly control their own fate during their final six games of the regular season. If they go 4-2 against the Red Sox and Orioles, the Blue Jays have a decent shot at finishing in the first Wild Card.
But anything fewer than four wins, and things get tricky. Here are all the potential scenarios that could play out over the last few games.
To hold off the Rays for home field
- If the Rays go 1-6 » the Jays need to go 0-6
- If the Rays go 2-5 » the Jays need to go 1-5
- If the Rays go 3-4 » the Jays need to go 2-4
- If the Rays go 4-3 » the Jays need to go 3-3
- If the Rays go 5-2 » the Jays need to go 4-2
- If the Rays go 6-1 » the Jays need to go 5-1
- If the Rays go 7-0 » the Jays need to go 6-0
To hold off the Mariners for home field
- If the Mariners go 3-4 » the Jays need to 1-5
- If the Mariners go 4-4 » the Jays need to go 2-4
- If the Mariners go 5-3 » the Jays need to go 3-3
- If the Mainers go 6-2 » the Jays need to 4-2
- If the Mariners go 7-1 » the Jays need to go 5-1
- If the Mariners go 8-0 » the Jays need to go 6-0
One disadvantage for the Blue Jays is the Rays and Mariners both have games in hand over Toronto. The Blue Jays have only six games left, while Tampa Bay has seven and Seattle has eight. Of the three teams, the Mariners have the most runway left to climb up the standings.
At the bare minimum, if the Blue Jays split their last six games and go 3-3, the Rays would need to go 5-2 or better in their final seven games to tie Toronto. Meanwhile, the Mariners need to go 6-2 or better to pull even with the Blue Jays and take the first Wild Card spot.
Anything fewer than three wins for the Blue Jays down the stretch and they’ll need a lot of help from the Rays’ and Mariners’ opponents to hold them down in the standings. Playing .500 baseball or better for Toronto gives them an excellent shot at securing the top Wild Card spot in the standings.