The Toronto Blue Jays have announced their ALCS starting rotation ahead of game one on Friday against the Kansas City Royals. Speaking with Bob McCown on PrimeTime Sports this evening, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos revealed that Marco Estrada would start in game one and be followed by David Price. Marcus Stroman will then pitch in game three back at the Rogers Centre with R.A. Dickey expected to round out the back end.
Anthopoulos also announced that reliever Aaron Loup would likely be returning to the club in time for the Royals series. Loup had been away from the organization while dealing with a family matter for the final two games of the ALDS, so his addition back into the bullpen will be substantial.
While Brett Cecil is eyeing an unlikely comeback in time for the World Series, Loup remains the only left-handed option for Toronto with no obvious replacements in waiting. Much like the Texas Rangers lineup, these Royals hitters will present some situations where Loup is needed in high-leverage spots.
This could also have an impact on the decisions that John Gibbons makes with David Price later in this series. Toronto may have been tempted to use Price in a relief role in or around game five of the series after he starts game two, but the presence of Loup may allow for Gibbons to save Price as a pure starter, thus giving him two potential starts. Given how tight this series is expected to be, they might need it.
Anthopoulos also admitted that the organization is considering making some minor roster changes before their final list of 25 names is due at 10:00 AM tomorrow. The GM told McCown that “there’s a chance” that “we may tweak some things”, and did mention Josh Thole‘s name. His addition would allow for Dioner Navarro to become a pure pinch-hitter.
Candidates to drop off the roster would be Ezequiel Carrera and Ryan Tepera. Carrera does hold some value as an extra outfielder that allows Dalton Pompey to be burned as a pinch-runner, so Tepera, who doesn’t seem to have much of a role, looks to be on the hot seat.
All things considered, the Blue Jays are setting up nicely for this series. The ALDS showed us that things can go sideways quickly, but with four productive starters and a bullpen led by a scorching hot closer, the pieces are in place to push the Royals. Buckle up, it’s going to be a good one.