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2015 Toronto Blue Jays: Against All Odds

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Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Over two thousand miles away from the Rogers Centre sits the city of Las Vegas. It was not an easy day to be oddsmaker on this Friday morning, with many stressful high-priority meetings on the schedule. Numbers have been crunched, correlations have being calculated, but the odds simply cannot predict the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays.

When its regular season began back on April 6th, the Blue Jays did not have much of any shot at the division. Following a significant injury to its ace, Marcus Stroman, the Blue Jays odds at winning the division opened at 11.5%. A young rotation featuring Drew Hutchison, Daniel Norris, and Aaron Sanchez was simply deemed too inexperienced to contend.

By May 23rd, Toronto's odds at the division had reached its season low. Though players such as Josh Donaldson and Devon Travis were having terrific seasons, the Blue Jays were given just a 5.7% chance at winning the American League East. Toronto was paired with the Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics in the basement of its respective divisions. Much like the previous twenty seasons, another mediocre year for the Toronto Blue Jays was all but a formality to an oddsmaker in Las Vegas.

Though Toronto's odds rose to a whopping 7.8% on July 28th, the division title was essentially being handed to the New York Yankees. The Blue Jays sat eight games behind the Bronx Bombers, while being unable to even get to .500. Barring a miraculous run, John Gibbons and company were solely competing for a wild card spot. Winning the division was against all odds.

Date Odds To Win AL East
Opening Day 11.5%
May 23rd 5.7%
July 28th 7.8%

Fast forward to October 9th. The AL East champion Toronto Blue Jays just lost a heart-breaking extra-inning game to Cole Hamels and the Texas Rangers. Texas took a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series, with the next two games to be played in Arlington. The Jays were left looking to become just the third team in MLB history to win a best-of-five series after losing its first two games at home. Making the playoffs had been a terrific ride, but Toronto's odds at advancing stood around a measly 10%.

In spite of Vegas' best efforts, the story was far from finished. Game 3 was won behind an exceptional performance from Marco Estrada, a starting pitcher who was relegated to the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen just one season ago. R.A. Dickey, born without an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), was formerly destined to rapidly lose velocity and have a short-lived career. At the age of 40, he started an extremely important game to bring the series back to Toronto.

To complete the improbable comeback in Game 5, the Blue Jays started a pitcher who has been beating the odds his entire career. At just 5'8, Marcus Stroman was labeled too short to be a starting pitcher at the Major League level. When Stroman tore his ACL in early March, he was all but ruled out for the entirety of the 2015 season. With months of grueling two-a-day workouts and painful therapy, Stroman shattered recovery expectations and beat the odds by returning in mid September. Aaron Sanchez, who was picking up the injured Stroman out of the shower just months ago, was now picking up his friend in relief.

Game 5 told the story of the 2015 Blue Jays. The pitcher who miraculously came back from a significant injury got the start. To bring the series back to Toronto in the first place, the Jays relied on a starter who improbably cameback to the majors as a knuckleballer. Managing the game was John Gibbons, a man that shockingly came back to Toronto for a second stint. Of course the Blue Jays fell behind, they were made by the comeback.

The return has been legendary. With yet another spectacular comeback, the Toronto Blue Jays play in Kansas City tonight. Though they have been down many times throughout the 2015 season, Las Vegas simply has not been able to figure this team out. The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays, against all odds, are headed to the ALCS.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The return shall be legendary.</p>&mdash; Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) <a href="">March 12, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Scars should remind you of where you&#39;ve been. But they don&#39;t have to dictate where you&#39;re going! <a href="">#onamission</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) <a href="">April 24, 2015</a></blockquote>

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