WATCH: Alek Manoah finds out he's going to start Opening Day for the Blue Jays
By Eric Treuden
Early on Friday, March 24th, the Toronto Blue Jays and manager John Schneider confirmed that Alek Manoah is going to be the club's Opening Day starter. Manoah will lead the charge against the St. Louis Cardinals as the Jays travel to their stadium to try and start the regular season off on a good note.
The Blue Jays posted a video on YouTube showing the exact moment Manoah found out he was going to be the guy against the Cardinals. Watch the heartwarming moment below.
As we know, the decision was likely not an easy one for the Blue Jays' management. Sure, Manoah was dominant last year and established himself as one of the league's best starting pitchers. However, Kevin Gausman matched him on the mound last season and had an argument of his own to take the mound in the season opener for the club.
Instead, it will be "Big Puma". The 25-year-old gave the Jays everything they could've asked for and more last year. In 31 starts, he went 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA and 3.35 FIP. His 174 ERA+ suggests that he was 74 percent above league-average last year, which is a Cy Young-worthy number.
However, he had to "settle" with a third place finish in the AL race. He dominated in nearly every major pitching category last season and has a very strong chance to follow up 2022's performance with an even better one in 2023.
As of right now, the rest of the Opening Day rotation behind Manoah has not been confirmed, but it feels like the following order could be what we see.
1. Alek Manoah
2. Kevin Gausman
4. José Berríos
With Berríos still working on staying consistent on the mound, he seems destined for the No. 4 role and Kikuchi's otherworldly performance has surely locked him into the final spot in the rotation, easily beating out Mitch White for the spot.
Anthony Recker would be so proud.