At 8:08 p.m. Eastern Time, the Toronto Blue Jays open the American League Championship Series in Cleveland looking to take the one final step that eluded them in their 2015 run.
Yesterday, the Blue Jays revealed how they will set up their starting rotation through the first four games:
Estrada had already been announced as the game one starter, a job he earned with eight and one-third innings of brilliance in the ALDS opener against the Texas Rangers. Estrada has been a strong and steady playoff performer for the Blue Jays and would likely circle back for game five if that becomes necessary.
The real decision for manager John Gibbons came in where to spot Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman. Complicating the situation further is the fact that Stroman has not pitched since the Wild Card game as the Blue Jays needed only three starters in the ALDS. Moving him ahead of Sanchez will get him back into action sooner, which is desirable now that Toronto has entered seven-game series territory.
Keeping Sanchez in game four of the series should also limit him to one start, and given that game four should push him over the 200 inning plateau for 2016, his workload is still very much a factor.
Latest on Francisco Liriano:
Liriano’s return will be a major factor for the Blue Jays bullpen, though he does still need to pass team and independent testing before being activated for Saturday. Not only does Liriano bring value in being a left-hander, but his ability to pitch multiple innings allows the Jays to be much more flexible when it comes to their overall roster construction.
Without Liriano, an arm like Scott Feldman could stick on the roster to chew low-leverage innings if necessary. Liriano’s situation also impacts the positional side of Toronto’s roster, where luxury pieces such as Dalton Pompey could feel the squeeze if insurance is needed for Liriano.
Anthony Alford goes deep in Arizona Fall League
Top outfield prospect Anthony Alford flashed his power in a big way last night for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League. In the top of the second inning, Alford launched a 434-foot home run to centre field that had an exit velocity of 108 MPH.
“I feel like I’m just hitting my stride,” he told Mike Rosenbaum of MLB.com after the game. “I’m learning something new every day about myself, still learning my strengths and weaknesses. I just try to continue to be a student of the game.”