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Why the Blue Jays can be the scariest group to face in 2021 MLB playoffs

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The Blue Jays discover themselves effectively inside hanging distance of the American League wild card.

Toronto begins a three-game sequence with the Yankees on Tuesday, adopted by a three-game stretch with the Orioles to finish the season, whereas the highest wild card group Yankees face the AL East champion Rays and the second wild card Crimson Sox face the Orioles and Nationals to wrap up the marketing campaign.

Reaching the playoffs not solely appears doable for Toronto however effectively inside its management. The Blue Jays may not enter with the perfect document within the American League, however they is likely to be the group no person needs to face in pursuit of a World Collection.

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How did the Blue Jays get thus far, and what is going to make them so harmful heading into October? Sporting Information breaks it down.

MVP and Cy Younger?

Look, Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani is a heavy, heavy favourite to win the AL MVP. His season is in contrast to any the game has ever seen.

But when it isn’t Ohtani, it’s going to nearly definitely be younger star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The 22-year-old first baseman leads all American League batters with a Fangraphs WAR of 6.7 and OPS at 1.005. He leads all of baseball with 120 runs scored. He’s tied with Royals catcher Salvador Perez for the house run lead at 46 (coming into Monday’s video games). By OPS+, it has been the ninth-best season ever for a participant 22 years outdated or youthful, in accordance with Stathead.

Guerrero’s not the one Blue Jay in award talks, nevertheless, and he is definitely not the one with the perfect odds of profitable. Robbie Ray has been one of the vital dominant pitchers within the recreation. He leads the league in strikeouts with 244, has the bottom ERA within the AL at 2.68, is tied for the bottom WHIP at 1.04 with the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole and he is pitched essentially the most innings at 188. His fWAR trails solely Crimson Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi and Cole within the American League.

May the Blue Jays sweep the awards? 

Few groups have been in a position to obtain that aim. This is a take a look at every group that has, not counting pitchers that gained each the Cy Younger and MVP.

Staff 12 months Cy Younger MVP
Brewers 1957 Warren Spahn Hank Aaron
White Sox 1959 Early Wynn Nellie Fox
Pirates 1960 Vern Legislation Dick Groat
Yankees 1961 Whitey Ford Roger Maris
Dodgers 1962 Don Drysdale Maury Wills
Crimson Sox 1967 Jim Lonborg Carl Yastrzemski
Dodgers 1974 Mike Marshall Steve Garvey
Phillies 1980 Steve Carlton Mike Schmidt
Brewers 1982 Pete Vuckovich Robin Yount
Cubs 1984 Rick Sutcliffe Ryne Sandberg
Dodgers 1988 Orel Hershiser Kirk Gibson
Pirates 1990 Doug Drabek Barry Bonds
Athletics 1990 Bob Welch Rickey Henderson
Braves 1991 Tom Glavine Terry Pendleton
White Sox 1993 Jack McDowell Frank Thomas
Athletics 2002 Barry Zito Miguel Tejada
Cardinals 2005 Chris Carpenter Albert Pujols
Twins 2006 Johan Santana Justin Morneau
Tigers 2013 Max Scherzer Miguel Cabrera

Of the 19 that picked up the 2 main awards, 11 made it to the World Collection and 5 gained all of it. Solely the 1962 Dodgers failed to achieve the postseason.

Having a dominant hurler on the bump and essentially the most feared hitter within the playoffs all on the identical group? That’ll make for some robust matchups for opponents.

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Deep lineup

The Blue Jays aren’t simply Vlad Jr., nevertheless. They’re one of many deepest lineups within the sport. 

Toronto is on the verge of being the primary group for the reason that 2003 Braves to have 4 gamers with not less than 100 RBIs, which is tied for the second-most of any group, behind solely the 1936 Yankees, who had 5, in accordance with Stathead.

Teoscar Hernandez sits at 112, Guerrero is at 105, second baseman Marcus Semien is at 99 and Bo Bichette is at 98. Over the ultimate six video games, if Lourdes Gurriel Jr. continues his hot-hitting stretch, he ought to not less than be a part of the 90 membership as he is at 84 RBIs.

Primarily based on weighted runs created-plus, the Blue Jays have the highest AL hitter at first base (Guerrero, 167) and second base (Semien, 134), third-best in proper subject (Hernandez, 136) and fourth-best at shortstop (Bichette, 115).

Backed by the stellar hitters, the Blue Jays are additionally presently main the league in group OPS+ at 114 they usually’ve hit for essentially the most energy with an ISO of .197 that additionally leads the league.

MORE: Blue Jays plunk Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier in obvious retaliation over pitching card dispute

Youngest playoff-contending group

Most playoff groups are loaded with skilled expertise which have had years of perfecting their video games and preparing for playoff runs. The youthful groups sometimes take a number of years to get able to compete.

The Blue Jays are a bit totally different, nevertheless. Among the many groups competing for the playoffs within the AL, no group has a youthful common age than Toronto (27.9 years outdated), in accordance with ESPN. Solely the Phillies (27.5) are youthful amongst groups in MLB with a profitable document.

It begins with that core group. Guerrero is just 22, Bichette is 23, Alejandro Kirk is 22, Cavan Biggio is 26 and Gurriel is 27. Toronto solely has two gamers in its beginning lineup 30 or older — Semien (30) and George Springer (31). 

What needs to be particularly scary to different MLB groups is that outdoors of Semien and Ray, who’re free brokers after this season, many of the core is sticking round for some time. Hernandez will not hit free company till 2024, Gurriel in 2025, Guerrero and Bichette in 2026 and Springer in 2027, in accordance with Spotrac.

Ought to they attain the playoffs this 12 months, the Blue Jays will acquire priceless expertise, and this core goes to be round for a very long time.

MORE: MLB standings 2021

Key offseason signings

The Blue Jays’ huge splash this offseason was to signal Springer to a six-year, $150 million deal. It says rather a lot a couple of group that he hasn’t even seen a lot of their greatest acquisition.

Springer missed many of the starting of the season, taking part in in simply 4 video games till rejoining the lineup extra usually on June 22. At that time, the Blue Jays had been simply 36-35 and 4 video games out of the wild card.

Regardless that Springer hasn’t been fairly as much as the extent he had been over the previous a number of years in Houston, he has made an enormous distinction. He has slashed .242/.335/.516 with 19 homers in 72 video games and has a wRC+ of 126. In response to MLB Networks’ Jon Morosi, the Blue Jays have a document of 44-28 when he is been within the lineup and simply 43-41 when he hasn’t hit.

However the greatest signings have undoubtedly been Semien and Ray. Semien left Oakland in free company and signed a one-year, $18 million deal to hitch Toronto. On that team-friendly deal, he has had an MVP-caliber marketing campaign posting a slash line of .268/.339/.543 with 43 homers and 15 stolen bases, and he is recorded an fWAR of 4.2.

Ray was acquired by the Blue Jays final season and was a free agent after 2020, however he signed a one-year, $8 million deal to come back again.

MORE: Dodgers’ Max Scherzer may high listing as greatest midseason pitching acquisition of all time

(Not so) secret bullpen weapon

There are the weapons that the Blue Jays have which were flourishing all through the season. Then there’s yet another who, whereas showing with the group this season, hasn’t but stood out on paper.

That will be fire-balling right-hander Nate Pearson. The 25-year-old has lengthy been thought of one of many recreation’s high pitching prospects largely to his fastball that may routinely hit triple digits and a wipeout slider that sits within the mid-80s.

Pearson was anticipated to be with the group extra this season, however has battled accidents and has been restricted to simply 11 innings with a 5.73 ERA. Nonetheless, most of that harm got here in a begin again in Could. Since he was known as again up in early September, he is been lights out.

Pearson has appeared in eight video games and has recorded a 4.15 ERA in 8.2 innings of labor. Even that ERA is ballooned considerably by an outing wherein he allowed two earned runs to cross the plate on Sept. 9 vs. the Yankees. Since that outing, the ERA is 1.59 in 5.2 innings with eight strikeouts and simply 4 hits allowed.

Prospects have usually made a distinction for groups within the playoffs as bullpen weapons. David Worth was promoted in late 2008 as a reliever and helped the Rays attain the World Collection. Brandon Finnegan was vital to the Royals in 2014. Garrett Crochet was filthy for the White Sox down the stretch final season. 

Pearson’s stuff is electrical, and if the Blue Jays choose to have him accessible within the bullpen within the postseason, he might be an actual weapon towards opposing hitters.

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