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Can Blue Jays keep pace in AL wild-card race?

Can Blue Jays keep pace in AL wild-card race?

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After splitting their four-game series with the Chicago White Sox and winning two out of three vs. the Detroit Tigers to close out August, the Toronto Blue Jays opened the month of September with a series-clinching victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Thursday brings a rare day off — a moment to regroup before a six-game stretch that will put their playoff hopes to the test. First, Toronto will host the Oakland Athletics, followed by a four-day stay in New York to take on the Yankees.

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

If the playoffs began today
The top team in each division makes the playoffs. In addition to the six division winners, the top remaining two teams per league qualify as wild cards for a total of 10 playoff teams.

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The wild-card teams in each league face off in winner-take-all games for the chance to advance to the LDS against the top-seeded division winner. Meanwhile, the remaining two division winners match up against one another in each league.

If the post-season began today, these five American League teams would qualify:

Wild-card game: New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox

No. 1 Tampa Bay Rays vs. winner of wild card game
No. 2 Houston Astros vs. No. 3 Chicago White Sox

And these five National League teams would qualify:

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Wild-card game: San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds

No. 1 Los Angeles Dodgers vs. winner of wild card game
No. 2 Milwaukee Brewers vs. No. 3 Atlanta Braves

In striking distance

The 73-60 Athletics are the closest team knocking on the wild-card door, sitting three wins behind Boston and four back of New York. Just one win behind the A’s, the Seattle Mariners (72-62) are threatening to break their decades-long post-season drought, while the 70-62 Blue Jays could potentially leapfrog both by week’s end with a successful series against Oakland, a poor outing from Seattle and a nod from the baseball gods.

Meanwhile, in the National League, the 84-49 Giants pretty much have that first wild-card position on lockdown (if they don’t overtake the 85-win Dodgers and upgrade to the NL’s top seed, that is), so this is really a race for a single spot. The San Diego Padres (71-63) are closest to the final wild card, just one win behind its current occupants in Cincinnati. Next up are the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals and their matching 68-64 records and .515 win percentage.

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Playoff odds report

Objectively speaking, here’s where the Blue Jays stand in relation to their closest adversaries, according to FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference:

Blue Jays’ FanGraphs odds: 9.8% | Blue Jays’ Baseball-Reference odds: 16.5%

Oakland’s FanGraphs odds: 17.5% | Oakland’s Baseball-Reference odds: 34.3%

Seattle’s FanGraphs odds: 3.9% | Seattle’s Baseball-Reference odds: 5.5%

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Next up

The Blue Jays will send right-hander Alek Manoah to the mound Friday night while the A’s counter with lefty Sean Manaea with wild-card implication aplenty. Meanwhile, the Mariners open a three-game series against the Diamondbacks on Friday.

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