Blue Jays’ Marco Estrada still plagued by first inning woes

Jun 6, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada (25) throws to the Oakland Athletics in the first inning of their MLB baseball game at the Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 6, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada (25) throws to the Oakland Athletics in the first inning of their MLB baseball game at the Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports /
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Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marco Estrada has been plagued by first-inning runs of late digging an early hole for himself and his teammates to climb out of during his recent starts.

Marco Estrada has surrendered first inning runs to the opposition in 5 of his last 6 starts tallying 10 runs in total during that stretch. The slow start has put the Blue Jays behind the eight-ball right out of the gate in the majority of Estrada’s recent outings.

In his first 7 starts of the season, the 33-year old had only been touched up for one first-inning run in those contests however he has faltered since that stretch.

The latest slide has elevated Estrada’s earned run average to 4.04 although he has struck out 90 batters in 78 innings of work thus far and ranks him among the league leaders in strikeouts.

The recent struggle may be attributed to Estrada not getting a feel for the change-up until he has a few innings under his belt. Opposition hitters may also be going up with a better game plan early on and for whatever reason are not being fooled early in the contest like they are later in the game.

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Last season Estrada allowed first-inning runs in 11 of his 29 starts, however, the runs to begin the game only totaled 13 for the entire 2016 campaign.

In his 6 postseason starts with the Jays over the past two seasons Estrada has only allowed one first inning run in those outings.

Estrada has been a little more reliant on his change-up early in the 2017 season throwing it 37.1% of the time compared to 29.7% last season. The hurler has also gotten away from his cutter-throwing it only 7.7% of the time this season whereas he utilized it 22.1% in 2016.

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Regardless of the reason, Estrada is going to have to figure it out and give his team a fighting chance when he takes the bump from here on out.