Jose Bautista has backed the Toronto Blue Jays to make their mark in the Major League Baseball playoffs this season.
In an interview with MLB lines site Betway, the six-time All-Star was full of praise for the way the Blue Jays have kept themselves in playoff contention.
The American League (AL) East is one of the most stacked divisions in MLB, with all five teams in the running to progress to the post-season.
The New York Yankees are running away with things at the top of the division, while the Blue Jays are battling with three rivals for a wildcard berth.
The Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles are the closest contenders, with Boston Red Sox a few games behind but still capable of forcing their way in.
Bautista, who was part of the Blue Jays’ teams that reached the playoffs in 2015 and 2016, believes his former team can emulate his achievements.
“You look at that division, and if the Yankees aren’t having the season they’re having, which is an anomaly – they’re having an unbelievable season and they deserve it – but that doesn’t happen all the time, if you take that out of the equation, the standards look much different,” he said.
“The gap doesn’t seem that big. Now, the season that the Jays are having seems like an amazing one. The Yankees record is skewing the rest of the league so much.
“But they’ve had a great season dealing with a lot of stuff, they’re in a great position to seal the deal, get into the playoffs and then go and battle. I’m excited to see what they can do down the road.”
While the Blue Jays are now firmly in the mix to reach the playoffs, things have not gone completely to plan in recent weeks.
A run of nine defeats in 11 matches saw Charlie Montoyo relieved of his duties as team manager and replaced by John Schneider.
The interim boss has done an excellent job, guiding the team to 18 victories in his first 30 matches in charge to boost his chances of taking over permanently.
With a roster packed with experience and exciting younger talents, the Blue Jays appear to have the perfect combination to go a long way in the playoffs.
They have reached the wildcard round just once in the past five seasons, but Bautista believes they can set the record straight this time around.
“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.
“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,” he added.
“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.”