TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have yet to make a final decision on who will start Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Indians at Progressive Field on Friday (8 p.m. ET on TBS and, in Canada, Sportsnet and RDS), but the early favorites appear to be either Marcus Stroman or Marco Estrada.
Toronto general manager Ross Atkins said on Monday evening that internal discussions have begun about who will get the call Friday night against Cleveland, but he was not prepared to make an official announcement. He also did not tip his hand about potential front-runners.
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"We've talked a little bit about several hypotheticals," Atkins said. "Fortunately now we can control it more than most [teams]. I think what we'll do is take our time.
"Not too much, to make sure that we're not disrupting routines, but take our time to think through it extensively to make sure we're putting our best foot forward for not only this series but beyond. Making sure we think about every angle. So we haven't decided yet."
The Blue Jays have to balance their preferred choice while making sure that the pitchers' routines are not too disrupted. Stroman did not get a chance to pitch in the AL Division Series vs. Texas and has not pitched since the AL Wild Card Game. If he doesn't pitch until Game 4 of the ALCS on Oct. 18, he would go two weeks between outings.
Estrada last pitched in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday. If he takes the mound for Game 1 of the ALCS, it would be on seven days' rest. Lefty J.A. Happ (who pitched Game 2 of the ALDS on Friday afternoon) would be on six days' rest for Game 2, while right-hander Aaron Sanchez would be on normal rest for Game 3 after he pitched in Toronto's clincher vs. Texas on Sunday night.
Stroman faced the Indians twice this season and allowed just two earned runs over 14 innings. Estrada, Sanchez and Happ each faced Cleveland once during the regular season. Estrada allowed three runs over five innings, Sanchez surrendered four earned runs over four innings and Happ allowed one run over seven.
Toronto does not expect to wait very long before making its decision official. The club would like to let each of its four starters know when they should be expected to pitch so that they can properly prepare for the upcoming series. An announcement will likely come either Tuesday or Wednesday.
"The sooner we can decide, the sooner we can set up more structure for them," Atkins said.