The Blue Jays have 25 games remaining in 2014 and currently hold a 70-67 record. The projected chance they make the playoffs is at about 3.2% which is not impossible but likely improbable after digging themselves a 10 game division hole & a 5.5 game second wild card hole. It is easy to loathe the days when they had a 6 game division lead but its more beneficial for my health to look at what lies ahead in September. If the Blue Jays are to make a run they will need to win most of their remaining games, I would suggest between 17-20 of their 25 remaining games and give a more in-depth look at the remaining contenders.
At the moment the biggest obstacles standing in their way is the number of teams and not as much as the 5.5 games distance. Lets break down the teams standing in their way and what their schedules looks like going forward. The main teams in contention for the second wild card are Kansas City (+.5), Detroit (2nd WC), Seattle (-1.5), Yankees (-5) & Cleveland (-5). The other 3 teams holding playoff spots Orioles (+9.5), Angels (+4.5) & Athletics (+3 lead on 1st Wild Card) will also play a large role but currently have a lock on their spots.
Detroit/ Kansas City: I am going to lump them together because with only .5 games of separation you are essentially chasing one or the other. At present KC holds the Central division lead by a tiny .5 game lead with Detroit holding the 2nd wild card. One of these teams needs to fall out of contention for the Blue Jays to have a chance.
KC has 24 games remaining with 1 suspended game also to be completed. 1 vs Rangers; 3 @ Yankees; 3 @ Tigers; 3 vs White Sox; 3 vs Tigers; 1 suspended game vs Indians; 3 @ Indians; 4 at White Sox. Detroit has 24 games remaining. 2 @ Indians; 3 vs Giants; 3 vs Royals; 3 vs Indians; 3 @ Twins; 3 @ Royals; 3 vs White Sox; 4 vs Twins.
Detroit and KC play each other 6 more times plus a combined 12 more games against the other Wild Card hopefuls. The Central Division is going to be a crazy race down the stretch because you also can not forget the Indians who are 5.5 back of the division and 5 back of the 2nd Wild card they will also play a key role.
Cleveland has 25 remaining games + 1 suspended game against the Royals. 2 vs Tigers; 3 vs White Sox; 1 vs Angels; 3 vs Twins; 3 @ Tigers; 4 @ Astros; 3 @ Twins; 1 @ Royals (suspended game); 3 vs Royals; 3 vs Rays.
Cleveland has a tough road ahead with 9 games against their Division rivals & 1 against the leading Angels. The rest of their schedule is pretty good if they can beat their division rivals. However they will not get any more chances against the Yankees or Seattle who are also ahead of them.
Seattle is only 1.5 games back of the 2nd Wild card and have 25 games remaining. 1 @ Athletics; 4 @ Rangers; 3 vs Astros; 3 vs Athletics; 4 @ Angels; 3 @ Astros; 4 @ Blue Jays; 3 vs Angels.
Seattle has a rough schedule the rest of the way with 4 against the Athletics, 7 vs the Angels and 4 vs the Blue Jays. The fact however that while tough they can control their future if they can win against their division rivals. They only have 4 games against the other Wild Card opponents but I like that they will get some chances to change the West race & 1st Wild card.
The Yankees like the Blue Jays have been up and down all year and they have the most remaining games at 26. 2 vs Red Sox; 3 vs Royals; 3 vs Rays; 4 @ Orioles; 3 @ Rays; 4 vs Blue Jays; 4 vs Orioles; 3 @ Red Sox
The Yankees schedule is not that bad with 7 against the other wild card rivals and 8 vs the division leading Orioles. They have a full plate ahead if they want to make some headway but like Cleveland and the Blue Jays a lot has to go right.
Finally we have the Blue Jays who have 25 games remaining. 2 @ Rays; 3 @ Red Sox; 3 vs Cubs; 3 vs Rays; 3 @ Orioles; 4 @ Yankees; 4 vs Mariners; 3 vs Orioles.
The next 25 games for the Blue Jays breaks up into two parts. The next 11 games will be against teams out of contention, if they want a chance at a playoff spot they will need to win the vast majority of these games. Something in the range of a 9-2 run is almost needed to set them up for the next 14 games which will be split between 6 vs the Orioles and 8 vs the Wild Card rivals.
“If” they can manage to extend their current win streak of 4/5 over the next two weeks that will set them up for an interesting final 2 weeks of tough baseball. They would need to find themselves with 87-90 wins to land the final Wild Card Spot. Meaning they will need to play some incredible baseball by winning no less than 17 of their last 25 games. Currently according to fangraphs projected standings the final wild card will go to the Royals at 88 wins with Seattle right behind at 87. So this is my basis for needing around 87-90 wins, while typically around 90 games puts you right in the playoff hunt. This year 1-3 games less might just do it but the next month will tell us for sure!
Luckily the stage is set for all the remaining teams to have a chance at beating each other up. This is the only thing the Blue Jays can hope for. For those meager 3.2% playoff odds to become a reality they will need to play close to .700 ball while beating up on Seattle & New York and the teams ahead of them need to beat each other up while not playing hot. The Blue Jays have shown in 2014 that when they get hot they are amongst the best in the game and when they get cold it becomes painful to watch. In winning 4 of their last 5 it might be a sign they are heating up. Jose Bautista has been really hot, Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera both are doing well while Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind look to be shaking off their DL dust. They will need some contributions from young guns Dalton Pompey, Daniel Norris, Anthony Gose, Kevin Pillar, Sean Nolin and Ryan Goins but perhaps with these players they can use them for timely defense, speed and needed relief or spot pitching. Like I said it’s not impossible but its pretty improbable, hopefully Blue Jay fans get a little September drama instead of an August hangover.