The Blue Jays are 71-60, which is better than all but one NL Wild Card competitor. In the AL, however, it's enough to get them a sideline seat.
It does say a lot about the AL race, which is a duel between divisions more than anything. It's 'which one's more competitive, the AL East or AL West?'. And right now the West is winning, with the Astros and Rangers still hanging onto wild card spots for the moment. That doesn't mean the East is going to lie down quietly, as the Jays and Sox are still in the race. But it seems like the big question is 'are the Rangers or Astros going to calm down so significantly that it vaults them out of the playoffs?' And with the Jays still steadily doing what they've been doing all year, it's a very important question.
One of the main things that's kept the Jays doing as well as they have is their compact rotation. Only six people have started games for the Blue Jays this year, and said sixth, Alek Manoah, has a good reason to not be starting at the current moment. The other five are all having solid years, and have all had moments in the sun where they can be the reliable point in the rotation. I think Kevin Gausman has had the most consistent year, and his 200 K mark does mean he'll get the most Cy Young votes. Chris Bassitt has garnered the most innings, as is custom, and he's also got a 12-7 record, which...makes sense, cause he goes really deep into games without giving up many runs. At the same time, both Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikuchi have warmed up recently. Berrios took a no-hitter late last week, while Kikuchi has a very solid 3.63 ERA and a 9-4 record. When the Jays netted Kikuchi there was worries that he'd struggle, as he had in Seattle, but he's figured things out and is just as deadly as he was in Japan.
The most surprising thing about this Jays team is that Hyun-Jin Ryu was able to return in full health and get right back to what he was doing before. The Dodgers played this waiting game with Ryu before, and Ryu rewarded them with an incredible year. The arm issues returned in the last few years, and now that Ryu's back he's got a 2.25 ERA and is 3-1 through his first 5 starts back. It is a very relieving thing that Ryu is still deadly, even at 36, and it's a factor that makes the Jays even more of a contender going into the last month of the season.
I wouldn't want to go up against any of those five guys, or have to throw against Bo Bichette, Matt Chapman or Vlad Jr. And though there have been series' where things haven't clicked, or teams that are clearly better than them, the Jays still have a shot to advance this year, and could pick up momentum and surprise people further into October. It's something that they've yet to produce, despite the potential, but there's a lot about this team that says they could compete this year. They just need to make it happen.
Coming Tonight: A month ago he was having a breakout year in Chicago. Now he's having a breakout year somewhere a bit nicer.