Blue Jays hope pitching strategy pays off in playoffs

Game 1 of their AL Wild Card series with the Rays is set for Tuesday afternoon in Tampa Bay

The Toronto Blue Jays are ready to go for their opportunity in the 2020 MLB postseason.

The young Blue Jays roster will face the American League's top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday afternoon in St. Petersburg to start the best-of-three series.

One player who many thought would be getting the ball to start for Toronto will have to wait at least one game. Hyun Jin Ryu, the Blue Jays' clear-cut ace, will start Game 2 instead on Wednesday, which definitely was a surprise to many when Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo announced his plan for the series on Monday.

Montoyo gave his reasoning, which will be questioned, but Matt Shoemaker will get the ball to start things off for the Blue Jays in Game 1. The Blue Jays manager said they are focused on winning two games and the order does not matter. He noted that by going with Shoemaker in Game 1, it gives Ryu an extra day of rest. But his main reason is that his bullpen is very well-rested, which he feels he can use to his advantage in Game 1 with Shoemaker, who likely would go less innings than Ryu would. Taijuan Walker is the scheduled starter for Game 3, if necessary.

It’s a very interesting decision by Montoyo. Sitting your best pitcher could put your team in a hole with little room for error in a short three-game series. However, Montoyo says they’re being creative. His bullpen is as rested as it could be and he feels that he can take advantage of that in Game 1, knowing that with Shoemaker starting, he will likely have to go to his bullpen earlier in the game.

Montoyo has been a believer in analytics all year, especially when dealing with his pitchers, so we shall see if this strategy pays off. Highly-touted pitcher Nate Pearson did get some work in the final regular season series against the Baltimore Orioles and he can be available at any time to go multiple innings.

Tampa Bay’s starting pitcher for Game 1 will be Blake Snell.

Toronto and Tampa Bay met 10 times during the regular season, with the Rays holding a 6-4 advantage in their head-to-head match ups.

Game 1 is scheduled for Tuesday at 5 p.m. and will be televised nationally on TBS. All three games, if necessary, will be played in Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field.