The Kansas City Royals host the Toronto Blue Jays tonight for Game 1 of their American League Championship series in Kauffman Stadium with Edinson Volquez on the mound for the home team against Jays' right-hander Marco Estrada in the first game of the best-of-seven game series.
Volquez, 32, finished the regular season (13-9) in 34 games, 33 of them starts, posting a 3.55 ERA, a 3.82 FIP, 72 walks (3.23 BB/9) and 155 Ks (6.96 K/9) in 200 ⅓ innings pitched.
In his start in Game 3 of the ALDS matchup with the Houston Astros, Volquez gave up five hits, four walks and three earned runs, taking the loss in a 4-2 game in what was the 11-year veteran's third postseason start.
Estrada, 32, went 6 ⅓ innings in his first postseason start and his fifth postseason appearance overall, holding the Rangers to a run on five hits in a 5-1 win in Game 3 of that division series.
In 34 regular season appearances, 28 of them starts, the veteran right-hander put up a 3.13 ERA, a 4.40 FIP, 55 walks (2.73 BB/9) and 131 Ks (6.51 K/9) in 181 IP.
Blue Jays' skipper John Gibbons was asked yesterday about the decision to go with Estrada over David Price.
"What it came down to," he explained, "these guys all have a lot of innings under their belt. Let's try to get some normalcy back to them a little bit, where you're not pitching on short rest. Even though Dave threw 50 pitches the other day, but he was coming back, he was up the night before. That's wear and tear. So let's get him back on his normal, just like everybody else. And Estrada, we felt that would be the best way to go."
Royals' manager Ned Yost talked about how Kauffman Stadium might actually play to Estrada's strengths as a fly ball pitcher.
"It helps him," Yost said. "Sure it does. It helps all pitchers. This is a pitcher's park. He's a guy that commands the ball well, changes speed, he's aggressive inside with his cutter against lefties, and fastballs in. He does a real good job, from what I've seen, reading swings, knowing when to speed you up, knowing when to slow you down with his stuff. But command is what has impressed me most about him. His ability to command a baseball."
Game 1 of the ALCS gets underway at 7:30 PM EDT in Kansas City:
|TORONTO BLUE JAYS||KANSAS CITY ROYALS|
|Ben Revere - LF||Alcides Escobar - SS|
|Josh Donaldson - 3B||Ben Zobrist - 2B|
|Jose Bautista - RF||Lorenzo Cain - CF|
|Edwin Encarnacion - DH||Eric Hosmer - 1B|
|Chris Colabello - 1B||Kendrys Morales - DH|
|Troy Tulowitzki - SS||Mike Moustakas - 3B|
|Dioner Navarro - C||Salvador Perez - C|
|Kevin Pillar - CF||Alex Gordon - LF|
|Ryan Goins - 2B||Alex Rios - RF|
|Marco Estrada - RHP||Edinson Volquez - RHP|
Volquez vs the Blue Jays:
Estrada vs the Royals: