Jays to start Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ in Games 1, 2 of ALDS

Fresh off their thrilling wild-card victory over Baltimore, the Toronto Blue Jays have set their rotation for the American League Division Series rematch with the Texas Rangers, featuring Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ for Games 1 and 2.

Rangers counter with Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish

Toronto Blue Jays pitchers Marco Estrada, left, and J.A. Happ will start Games 1 and 2, respectively, of the American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers. (Canadian Press/Associated Press)

Fresh off their thrilling wild-card victory over Baltimore, the Toronto Blue Jays have set their rotation for the American League Division Series rematch with the Texas Rangers.

Toronto right hander Marco Estrada will start Game 1 of the best-of-five series at Globe Life Park on Thursday at 4:38 p.m. ET.

'It will be Estrada, Happ and Sanchez'

6 years ago
Duration 1:10
Blue Jays' bench boss John Gibbons announces the pitching rotation for Toronto's first three games of the American League Division series against the Texas Rangers.

Estrada will be followed by J.A. Happ in Game 2 on Friday (1:08 p.m. ET); Aaron Sanchez starts Game 3 at the Rogers Centre on Sunday (7:38 p.m. ET), while Marcus Stroman will go to the mound if there is a Game 4 on Monday.

Estrada, who went 9-9 with a 3.48 ERA, was solid down the stretch, allowing only two earned runs in his last three games.

Happ, a free-agent gem in the off-season, became the franchise's sixth 20-game winner. Sanchez, the team's most dominant starter this year, finished the regular season with an impressive 15-2 record, and also delivered an AL-leading 3.00 ERA.

Stroman had an uneven season, going 9-10 with a 4.37 ERA, but was strong in Toronto's 5-2 wild-card win over Baltimore.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons also said closer Roberto Osuna is feeling better, and the shoulder tweak that caused him to leave the wild-card game is not a serious issue, though his availability for Game 1 remains in question.

Hamels, Darvish set for Rangers

The Rangers counter with left-handed ace pitcher Cole Hamels for Game 1, and Japanese fireballer Yu Darvish will take the mound in Game 2. Colby Lewis will start Game 3 at the Rogers Centre.

Hamels, fresh off a 15-win regular season with 200 strikeouts, pitched Game 2 and Game 5 of last year's ALDS versus the Blue Jays, going 1-0 with a 2.70 earned-run average and posting a no-decision in a 6-3 loss in the decisive contest.

The 33-year-old is 0-2 with a 6.97 ERA in four regular-season starts against Toronto.

In 15 home starts this season, Hamels compiled a 5-2 record, 4.40 ERA, 1.47 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched), 37 walks and 94 strikeouts in 92 innings.

Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin have had the most success against Hamels among Blue Jays hitters. Encarnacion, whose three-run homer in the bottom of the 11th inning of Tuesday's AL wild-card game against Baltimore sent Toronto to the ALDS, is 5-for-14 for a .357 batting average against Hamels with a home run and .438 on-base percentage.

Tulowitzki isn't far off, hitting at a .333 clip (5-for-15 with two homers) against the lefty, while Martin is 5-for-18 (.278) with a homer. After Tuesday's game, the veteran catcher split open the pinky finger on his left hand giving a high five, but pronounced himself ready for Thursday's series opener.

Darvish, 30, didn't pitch in last year's playoffs following elbow ligament replacement (Tommy John) surgery.

The right-hander made 17 starts this season but none against the Jays, going 7-5 with a 3.41 ERA. He was 6-2 with a 4.26 ERA in 10 starts at home and is 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA in seven starts versus Toronto.

Encarnacion leads the Blue Jays with five hits against Darvish in 16 at-bats (.313), including two home runs and three walks for a .450 OBP.

Texas secured home-field advantage through the playoffs with a 95-67 record in the regular season.

The Blue Jays finished 89-73 and were forced to go into Game 7 mode for their final three games of the season at Boston, where they two games, due to a September slump.

Big comeback

"We're just looking to put them away," said Toronto right-fielder Jose Bautista of the Rangers. "We've got to win some ball games. The offence has been streaky so hopefully we can get on a roll."

The Blue Jays had a 4-3 edge in the season series over Texas, which won the first two games on the road in last year's ALDS before Toronto rebounded with three straight victories. But the Jays' first post-season appearance in 22 years ended with a loss to the Kansas City Royals in the AL Championship Series.

Gibbons feels his team matches up well with the Rangers, emphasizing its good balance of offence, pitching and team speed to go with a solid bullpen.

Texas has reached the playoffs in five of the last seven years but never won the World Series, while Toronto's last title came in 1993.

With files from The Canadian Press


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