Astros best playoff matchup No. 5 — Toronto Blue Jays
Record vs. Toronto Blue Jays 2022 Regular Season: 2-4. Outscored opponent 27-26 in six games.
These teams met in the first month of the season but the games had a playoff atmosphere as they were both known to be contenders to play in October. Both squads gave an all-out effort reserved for a matchup in fall rather than two early series in April.
Every single game was close with five of the six games having a one run margin of victory, with the Astros winning a game 11-7 in Toronto. Clearly this series was close as despite the fact the Astros lost the season series four games to two they still outscored Toronto 27-26. For what it’s worth this series was also Jeremy Pena’s coming out party when he hit a walk off home run against the Blue Jays elite closer Jordan Romano.
The Blue Jays would by far be the toughest opponent for the Astros to face in the playoffs. Their offense is fourth in runs scored but unlike the Yankees they hit for contact. By contrast to the Yankees the Blue Jays have eight players hitting .263 or better. You’ll remember from the previous slide that that number is the second highest batting average on the Yankees.
The Blue Jays have the highest team batting average in the major leagues, they are seventh in the majors in home runs, and they don’t strikeout a lot as they have the sixth lowest strikeout rate in the major leagues.
In the playoffs the more contact you can make and the more you can minimize rally killing strikeouts the better off you are.
Besides their potent offense they have two aces leading their rotation in Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman. Those two would be formidable foes to the Astros one-two punch of Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez.
The bullpen of the Blue Jays is probably their weakest point but they have three relievers with ERA’s under three and in a short series with two starters who can go six strong that is a scary prospect.
The Blue Jays high contact, high power offense combined with their top two in the rotation and solid bullpen make them the opponent the Astros least want to face. Especially in a short series where you only need three starters unless the series goes the distance. Unfortunately were the Astros to face the Blue Jays it would be in an ALDS matchup where the depth of your starting rotation won’t be exposed. Starting pitching depth is where the Astros have the Blue Jays beat as after Toronto’s top two starters there is a significant drop off with the struggling Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikuchi.
The biggest advantage the Astros have over Toronto is playoff experience. There’s only a handful of players on this team that have seen postseason action other than the pandemic playoffs of 2020 which had minimal crowds.
If the Astros play the Blue Jays it will be the first taste of real postseason baseball for a lot of their players. How they respond to those environments could determine the series as the Blue Jays have enough talent to match up with the Astros.
It’s looking like the Astros will most likely face Toronto or Seattle in the first round. If you’re an Astros fan, root for Seattle. Because Toronto is the most dangerous team that could ruin the Astros run of consecutive ALCS appearances and their bid for a second World Series title.