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Toronto Blue Jays: Why starting Matt Shoemaker in Game 1 makes sense

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 09: Starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker #34 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches in the bottom of the second inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 09, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 09: Starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker #34 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches in the bottom of the second inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 09, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Blue Jays open up the Wild Card round on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Jays announced that they are starting Matt Shoemaker in Game 1 over Hyun Jin-Ryu. Many Jays fans are likely to be skeptical about the decision, but I am going to tell you why I absolutely love it.

There is no question as to who the ace of the Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff is. It is Hyun Jin Ryu.

Ryu signed a four-year, $80 million contract with the Jays after the conclusion of the 2019 season. He has already made an astronomical impact leading the rotation and the Jays to their first postseason appearance since the 2016 season. Ryu finished the year with a 5-2 record in 67 innings pitched and an earned run average (ERA) of 2.69  He finished 4th in the American League in ERA and will likely finish top five in American League Cy Young voting.

Why not start him Game 1? 

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The Blue Jays head into this Wild Card series as the lowest seed playing the highest seed, therefore, they are the clear-cut underdogs. I like the move of throwing Matt Shoemaker out to pitch Game 1 because it puts the pressure on the Rays. In a short three-game series, the team that loses Game 1 is already on the cusp of elimination for Game 2. If Shoemaker can pitch some quality innings and keep the Jays in the game early, it continues to put more and more pressure on the Rays. Anyone can win on any given day, especially in baseball.

Win-Win Situation

If the Jays can somehow pull out this Game 1 victory, they will then get their ace to start Game 2 with a chance to advance to the Divisional Round.

If the Jays fall short and lose the opening game, then they will get their ace to start Game 2 in an elimination game where their season will be on the line.

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Either way, Ryu is going to start in a massively important game! Starting Shoemaker in Game 1 puts more pressure on the Rays to win.  This series should be very exciting as these teams are very familiar with one another. This is the only divisional matchup in all of the eight wild card series. Let’s enjoy the ride, Jays fans!

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