After four thrilling Division Series matchups, we now dive into the Championship Series portion of the season. The American League kicks it off on Friday, with both series going on Saturday:
Marco Estrada (TOR) vs. Edinson Volquez (KCR)
8:08 p.m. ET, a��FOXa��
John Gibbons’ puzzling use of David Price continues. Not only was Price essentially used in mop-up duty in a do-or-die Game 4 in the Division Seriesa��rather than starting that game or the winner-take-all Game 5a��but he won’t make the Game 1 start in Kansas City, either. Some believed Gibbons preferred to use Price in a short burst to keep him good for a potential Game 1, which is the kind of Yostian brilliance that failed to take into account that the club needed to win two games before that came into playa��at all. And beyond that, here we are, with Estrada making the Game 1 start.
After the Jays dropped the first two games of the series, Estrada saved their hides in a must-win Game 3 with 6.1 solid innings. Estrada scattered five hits and fanned four, and most importantly allowed no home runs after allowing nine long balls in seven September and October starts. It’s worth noting that Estrada’s Game 3 win was in Arlington, and he doesn’t really have strong home/road splitsa��2.95 home ERA, 3.29 on the roada��but still not maximizing possible usage of Price looms large here. So far it has worked out for Gibbons. We’ll see if it continues.
Volquez had a so-so outing in Game 3 against the Astros, fanning eight over 5.2 innings. However, he also walked four and allowed three earned runs, and ultimately dug a hole that his offense couldn’t climb out of. This isn’t the quintessential aces matchup one might expect out of the first game of the Championship Series, but these are a pair of guys who were durable and pitched big innings all season long for their clubs. It’s a mild surprise Volquez was able to keep his numbers roughly the same as he jumped ship from the NL to the AL, but his secondary ERAs suggest he was markedly better overall. Pitching roughly the same with a BABIP jumpa��surprising considering the Royals defense, but stilla��goes a long way.
Just like Volquez, who has come quite a distance since posting a 5.71 ERA with the Padres and Dodgers in 2013.