Toronto Blue Jays working to earn first playoff berth since 2016

 

Despite the fact they lost today's (August 31) game to the Baltimore Orioles, the Toronto Blue Jays came out winners at the MLB's trade deadline.

As a result of the pandemic-shortened season, the MLB elected to make some changes to the playoff format.

Rather than having just the winners of the two league's three conferences--for a total of six teams--make the playoffs, plus two wildcard teams per league, the MLB has approved changes that would allow 16 teams to make the playoffs, similar to the NBA's playoff format.

This year, due to the fact the season has been reduced to less than a third of a regular Major League season, the MLB will have eight teams from each league make the playoffs--the top two teams from each division, as well as the two teams with the best records among those remaining.

The Blue Jays, who appear set to return to the postseason for the first time in the last four years, made several moves at the deadline that puts them in a position to capitalize on their chance to compete this year, without sacrificing their ability to compete down the road.

The Blue Jays added a pair of pitchers--left-hander Robbie Ray from the Arizona Diamondbacks, and right-hander Ross Stripling from the LA Dodgers--as well as speedy utility player Jonathan Villar from the Miami Marlins.

These additions come after Toronto added DH Daniel Vogelbach and right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker from the Seattle Mariners just a few days ago.

The best part is, due to the fact the majority of the players the Blue Jays acquired are on expiring contracts, they managed to strengthen their squad and put themselves in a position to contend this year without giving up too many prospects and mortgaging the future.

The Blue Jays' bats have been hot so far, which has made up for their struggles on the mound--a litany of injuries has forced Toronto to go to their bullpen more often than they would like, as they have been without top prospect Nate Pearson and key member of the starting rotation piece Matt Shoemaker.

Toronto currently owns the eighth and final playoff spot for the American League with an 18-15 record, while the 16-16 Detroit Tigers are attempting to gain ground in their upcoming series with the Milwaukee Brewers.   

If the Blue Jays' bats stay hot, and the new pitching additions help shore up the rotation, Toronto could see a return of playoff baseball--something that hasn't happened since 2016.

Cover photo courtesy of the Toronto Blue Jays via Instagram

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