Bautista Backs the Blue Jays to Make Their Mark in The Play-offs
Toronto Blue Jays legend Jose Bautista has backed his former team to have a major impact when the Major League Baseball play-offs come around.
The Blue Jays sprung a big surprise during July by firing manager Charlie Montoyo after signing him to an extension through 2023 in April.
They had lost nine of 11 games before Montoyo’s firing and were 15.5 games adrift of the New York Yankees in the American League (AL) East.
John Schneider was appointed as interim manager and has since guided the Blue Jays to within ten games of the Yankees in a super-competitive division.
Schneider inherited a team that is in the mix for a wildcard spot and has ambitions of progressing a long way in the play-offs.
The 42-year-old’s hopes of being appointed as permanent manager undoubtedly rest on him guiding the team to a strong play-off run.
The Blue Jays have not contested the World Series since defeating the Philadelphia Phillies to clinch their second successive title in 1993.
Despite their barren run since then, Bautista insists the Blue Jays are well placed to be serious contenders during the post-season.
“I think that they’re in a great spot, given everything that they’ve had to deal with,” he told MLB odds site Betway.
“There’s been some under par performances when you look at what guys typically contribute, and some injuries, especially to the starting pitcher corps.
“(Hyun-jin) Ryu’s been out, they haven’t been able to count on him at all. And some guys that got off to slower starts like (Teoscar) Hernandez.
“But as a team, they’ve played together, they’ve stuck together, they’ve dealt with the adversity of having their manager swapped out in the middle of things, and they’ve put themselves in a situation where they’re in a comfortable position.”
While the six-time MLB All-Star is bullish about the Blue Jays’ hopes of success this year, the team have not made things easy for themselves in the last couple of weeks.
A 4-8 run during the first half of August halted the progress they made under Schneider and has put pressure on their hopes of securing a wildcard berth.
They are still on course to record a .535 winning percentage, which is likely to be on the borderline for the tally they needed to progress to the post-season.
Their remaining games against the Baltimore Orioles could be pivotal, with Brandon Hyde’s team in touching distance of the Blue Jays in the AL East.
The Tampa Bay Rays are also in the running in a race that may well go down to the final few games of the season.
Having reached the wildcard round just once in the past five years, there is additional expectation on the Blue Jays to qualify this time around.
They last contested the AL Championship Series in 2016, losing 4-1 in their best-of-seven series against the Cleveland Indians.
With the disappointment of losing out in the wildcard round against the Rays in 2020 still fresh in the memory, the players will be eager to set the record straight this year.
Bautista is unequivocal in his belief that the Blue Jays can be serious play-off contenders and does not rule out them contesting the World Series at the end of the campaign.
“They have the team, it’s just a matter of getting that combination,” he added.
“You’ve got to have the health – you’ve got to have the guys showing up every day and doing what they’re capable of doing. It seems like every year they’ve had to deal with something, hopefully this year it’s not the case.
“And listen, you want to win the World Series, but a lot of things have to come together for a team to do that. That’s why there’s only one World Series winner every single year.
“For me, to play meaningful games in September and actually getting into October, that’s a success in itself. Getting past the early rounds, that’s even better. And these guys have done that already, so I just want them to do it again, and I think that they can accomplish it.”