Blue Jays: Jays name Alek Manoah as Opening Day starter
The decision must have come down to the wire for John Schneider and the Toronto Blue Jays. Who to name as the 2023 Opening Day starter?
With Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman both staking a claim as the ace of the staff in 2022, either one would have been an excellent and unsurprising choice.
As the dust settles, Manoah has been named the Opening Day starter and will take the mound when the Jays face off against the Cardinals next Thursday, March 30 in St. Louis.
There's no denying that Manoah deserves the honor. Placing third in AL Cy Young voting last year definitely helped his case. The 25-year-old was a workhorse for the Jays in 2022, logging 196.2 innings with 180 strikeouts, a fourth-best 2.24 ERA and a 10th-best 0.99 WHIP.
While Manoah's Grapefruit League numbers haven't been as sharp as Gausman's, the Jays are more concerned with what the 25-year-old will bring to the mound once the regular season begins. There's no doubting his desire to compete.
Gausman himself was no slouch on the bump last season. He was a rock in the Blue Jays rotation. He made 31 starts, pitched 174.2 innings and raked up 205 strikeouts.
Gausman had some bad luck with a league-high .363 BABIP but finished second among qualified starters with a 2.38 FIP. His 5.7 fWAR tied him for fourth with the NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara. He ranked seventh with a 10.56 K/9 and third with a 1.44 BB/9.
Despite Manoah's youth, heading into his third season, the Jays felt comfortable going with the budding superstar over the 10-year veteran Gausman, who has already made two Opening Day starts in his career.
With Manoah on the hill, the Blue Jays will be in good hands on Opening Day in St. Louis.