Red Sox

AL wildcard chase: How the schedules break down for Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays

The Yankees' path to the playoffs isn't an easy one.

Al wildcard chase
Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Teoscar Hernandez is called out at third base in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox. Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP

The last few weeks of MLB regular season could be a wild ride for the three teams remaining in the AL wildcard chase.

As of Thursday evening, the AL East faction of the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Yankees are separated by just half a game at the top of the standings after the Yankees dropped out of the tie with a loss to the Orioles. The A’s and Mariners, meanwhile, trail the Red Sox and Blue Jays by three and four games respectively.

How the different schedules break down paints an interesting picture of where the race stands with 14 or 15 games remaining on each team’s slate. Here’s a closer look.

Red Sox

Last 10 games: 4-6

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The Red Sox have the easiest schedule of the three teams, with one fewer game and just one series against a potential playoff team. 

They start with three contests this weekend against the Orioles, followed by two against the Mets. Next weekend, the Red Sox face the Yankees in their most important remaining series. Then they wrap up the regular season with three apiece on the road against the Orioles and Nationals (who are 60-86). 

Blue Jays

Last 10 games: 8-2

The Red Sox are nicely positioned in part because they play the worst team in the American League (the 46-99 Orioles) six times. The Blue Jays — who were also off on Thursday evening — also get to play the worst team in the American League three times, as well as the third-worst team — the 64-83 Twins — three times.

The biggest difference for the Blue Jays and the Red Sox: The Jays have three games against the Rays after their first series against the Twins. While the Blue Jays get three games against the best team in the division, the Red Sox get three games against the Nationals, the worst team in the NL East.

Yankees

Last 10 games: 4-6

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The Yankees have a very tough schedule remaining, but the next week is a brief respite with three games apiece against Cleveland and the Rangers at home. 

Then things get difficult, starting with their crucial series against the Red Sox. A sweep would put the Yankees in a very comfortable position, but winning two out of three might not be enough to cement anything since the Yankees finish the season with three-game series’s against the Blue Jays (who seemingly can’t lose) and the Rays.

The Yankees could still make the playoffs, but — more than either the Red Sox or the Blue Jays — they will have to earn their way in with some big victories.

Conclusion

Given the Blue Jays’ surge and their middle-of-the-road schedule, the most likely outcome seems to be that they claim the top wildcard slot, while the Red Sox’s cushy schedule (Yankees excluded) helps them snag the other.

The Red Sox-Yankees series next week looms large and could play a pivotal role. But if the Red Sox take care of business against the mediocre teams, they could diminish the importance of the head-to-head against their rivals.

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