Marco Estrada set the bar high with his tremendous outing in the Blue Jays' Game 1 ALDS win. He'll be looking to replicate that performance, in results and approach, when he takes the mound for Game 1 of the ALDS on Friday night in Cleveland.
Estrada dominated the Texas Rangers over 8 1/3 innings, a solo home run in the ninth the only run he allowed, and struck out six as he set the tone for a Toronto sweep. His approach in that game in terms of pitch selection didn't vary too much from what he did in the regular season, except he relied even more on his fastball and changeup and only used his cutter a couple times. It certainly worked on that afternoon in Arlington, and could very well work again here.
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Jason Kipnis and Mike Napoli are two of Cleveland's most dangerous hitters, and they both have struggled hitting changeups this season. Estrada has one of the best changeups in baseball, and like he did against the Rangers, he'll use it to his advantage. He'll have to be careful around Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, though, who have been locked in on the change.
"it's like any other team, every team has a good lineup. Obviously teams that are in the playoffs might have a little bit better lineup. And that's basically what it is. Texas had an incredible lineup, so do these guys," said Estrada. "Every team is good. Some are a little better, but you can't take anybody lightly. And they've got an extremely talented team over there, but so do we."
What can the Blue Jays expect from Cleveland ace Corey Kluber? If Kluber's start against Boston in their ALDS is any indication, he'll be throwing plenty of sinkers and going to his slider with two strikes. For what it's worth, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Russell Martin have had success, albeit in a relatively small sample size, when facing Kluber.
Toronto and Cleveland's Game 1 starters are both coming off games where they were in control against excellent offensive teams. Their challenge here is to do it again, and there's something to be said for keeping hitters guessing. Weighing that aspect when coming up with a strategy for a game adds another fascinating wrinkle to what looks like will be a tightly contested series.
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