It’s a big game for Toronto at the Rogers Centre today, as the Jays look to avoid falling prey to the dreaded 3-0 deficit in the ALCS:
Johnny Cueto (KCR) vs.A�Marcus Stroman (TOR)
8:07 p.m. ET, a��FS1a��
The amazing thing about the playoffs is that it can oftentimes give us matchups like this. Neither of these guys spent the bulk of the season in their current uniformsa��for entirely different reasons, of coursea��but they’ll each be tasked with taking the ball under the game’s brightest spotlight. Cueto’s pitching for both names on his jersey, while Stroman is trying to prolong the series by virtue of trying to cushion the Jays’ current 2-0 deficit.
If Cueto’s first postseason start with the Royals was shaky, he was absolutely nails last time out in the clincher against Houston. The righty dealt eight solid innings, fanning eight and walking none while allowing just two runsa��a two-run home run by Luis Valbuenaa��as he pitched the Royals into the ALCS at the K. It’s possibly interesting to note that Cueto is using more sliders than at any point this season in the month of October, and that’s after hardly using it at all in September. After a rough end of the season, he’s another good start away from making Dayton Moore look like a complete genius. Especially if he can help the Royals close out the series early and get himself ready early in the World Series.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here…
Stroman out-dueled Cole Hamels in what wound up being an absolutely bonkers elimination game at Rogers Centre which included intense drama, bat flips, umpire decisions and errors galore. Stroman has been phenomenal since returning quickly from a torn ACL, though he’s been missing strikeouts a bit.
Brooks says he’s switched from a four-seamer to a two-seamer/sinker, so maybe he’s favoring the safer nature of groundballs as he works his way back to 100 percent? In a limited sampling he showed a much better groundball rate this year (64.1 percent) than last (53.8 percent), though there isn’t enough of a sampling to exactly run with it. Stroman induced 27 grounders between his two playoff starts so far, so that does appear to be his plan, at least for now. If he can keep that up and get back to his strikeout ways from last year (7.7 K/9 against this year’s 6.0), he could really take the next step and be the Jays’ ace. They might need one.