Game 5 Preview: Blue Jays vs. Royals, Cy Kikuchi on the mound, starting lineups, more
By Eric Treuden
Remember in Monday's preview when the Kansas City Royals were referred to as one of the "easier" teams to face in the American League? The Toronto Blue Jays enter Game 2 of this series down 1-0, taking all validity of previous comments and throwing them out the window.
José Berríos made his 2023 regular season debut for the Blue Jays and, frankly, picked up where he left off at the end of last season. He had struggled in Spring Training and the World Baseball Classic, so Monday's game is not completely out of left field, but it was still tough to see. The 28-year-old made it into the sixth inning and struck out seven batters, but eight earned runs on nine hits is a tough defecit to overcome.
On Tuesday, Yusei Kikuchi will begin his 2023 AL Cy Young Award campaign (I say lightheartedly, but maybe!). The 31-year-old was dominant in every sense of the word during Spring Training, posting a 0.87 ERA across seven appearances and 20.2 innings in spring. He also led the entire league in strikeouts with 31, a most welcomed development from him. He's also coming off of a down year, but his spring performance gives a lot of hope for Blue Jays fans.
On the other side of the mound, left-hander Kris Bubic is making his 2023 debut for the Royals. The 25-year-old came up through the Royals' system as a prized pitching prospect but has largely failed to deliver on this potential in the big leagues. Last year in 28 appearances (27 starts), he went 3-13 with a 5.58 ERA, 4.78 FIP and 73 ERA+. He relies heavily on groundball outs and needs to work on keeping the ball in the ballpark if he is to succeed at the game's highest level.
Toronto Blue Jays starting lineup: April 4, 2023
1. DH George Springer
2. SS Bo Bichette
3. 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
4. 3B Matt Chapman
5. LF Daulton Varsho
6. RF Whit Merrifield
7. C Danny Jansen
8. 2B Santiago Espinal
9. CF Kevin Kiermaier
Lineup changes from previous game: Brandon Belt, Alejandro Kirk, Cavan Biggio out; Santiago Espinal, Danny Jansen, Whit Merrifield in.
Whit Merrifield will be making his first start since he was traded from the Royals at last year's deadline. He makes his first appearance in right field while George Springer shifts to designated hitter.
Kansas City Royals starting lineup: April 4, 2023
1. SS Bobby Witt Jr.
2. LF Edward Olivares
3. C Salvador Perez
4. DH Franmil Reyes
5. 3B Matt Duffy
6. 1B Hunter Dozier
7. CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
8. RF Nate Eaton
9. 2B Nicky Lopez
Former Blue Jays outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. shifts from LF to CF for the game while another former Jay (as an outfield prospect) Edward Olivares makes his third appearance of the year in the fifth game.