Rays @ Blue Jays
In many ways, being in the same division as the Orioles could well gloss over the need for urgency at the Blue Jays. After all, Montoyo is pretty set to carry this farm into 2020 and finishing by sweeping the the Orioles as well as taking three of six against the Yankees sweetens the bitter taste in the mouths of the fanbase.
On the other hand, Billy McKinney hit two homers in their last series, resulting in the Blue Jays setting a record for the number of rookies to hit 10 or more homers in a single season. There is light, and there is a tunnel – even if one is far more visible than the other right now.
A three-game homestand against the Rays is enough to get people into the Rogers Centre, too. The Rays are chasing the final wild card spot in the AL, and they need to stay ahead of the Indians to do so.
They’ll want to come over the board and sweep the Jays, but given the lack of pressure on them, facing into a lengthy off-season, the batting arm might just loosen and plate discipline, which has been nothing short of appalling to this point, might improve.
If nothing else, this could be the series that the Blue Jays use to entice others in to purchase season tickets. Renewals for an 81-game commitment can be tough to sell, but an electric lineup and some call-ups might use the future to disguise the present.
The Rays end their 2019 homestand by welcoming the Yankees, and if there’s a time to welcome them, it might well be now as their place in the postseason is confirmed. Wins in those games might make for less of a knife-edge type series in Ontario, but with the Indians at the sub-.500 White Sox before finishing at the Nats who should be resting for the Wild Card at that point.
That pretty much guarantees us competitive baseball in late September, which is always a welcome treat. The Blue Jays faithful may not have been treated to too much this season, but at least their goodbye should be filled with runs and urgency.
Wild Card Race
The National League picture is much clearer than the American League, with Chicago needing a miracle for either the Nats or Brewers to fall into a four-game swing against them with just six ballgames left in the season.
The Brewers do spend their final six games away from Miller Park. But a slugger-friendly trip to Colorado should play into their hands, while the Nats have a five-game series against a Phillies squad that appears to have given up the cause a while back.
Right now, the Rays and the Athletics occupy the Wild Card berths in the AL, but the Indians are a tie-breaker behind the Rays, while the Red Sox officially cannot make the postseason – a travesty for their organisation.
As mentioned above, the Indians’ favourable close to the year puts real pressure on a Rays pitching staff that have conceded fewer than three runs in just one of their last 13 games in major league baseball.