Game 1: Joe Kelly (0-0) vs Marcus Stroman (1-0, 3,38 ERA)
Despite a 2.35 ERA in his last eight starts of 2015, Kelly is still a work in progress. Versus the Jays he may have a few fits thanks to his 6.17 ERA in two starts against them last season. Going into a home opener for a team that is hungry after a so-so 2-2 start to the season is not the kind of matchup that Kelly was envisioning.
He has a pretty good 95 MPH heater and he is getting better but with the grandiose stage of Rogers SkyDome Centre, it may be a bit too much to overcome. He will become a backbone of this rotation as the year goes forward so don’t be surprised if the next time we see Kelly he will have come into his own.
Stroman gave the Blue Jays exactly the type of start expected of his new-found ace role. Pitch into the 9th, keep the pitch count down (as well as his pitches) and you have the makings of an excellent beginning. Forget about innings pitched, just keep your eye on the number of pitches he throws. If you are worried about a tired arm later in the season, don’t worry. More games like the one in Tampa and there will be no issues of mileage on his golden arm.
Will he survive to be the front end guy the Jays hope for? It would seem so though his career could mimic another pitcher with a diminutive stature…Tom Gordon. He eventually move to the bullpen to truly maximize the potential in his arm and he became a great closer. Keep an eye on this as things move forward for Stroooooo.
Next: Game 2: Don't let the 14-year age gap fool you