The Toronto Blue Jays secured a berth in the American League wild card game with a dramatic win over the Boston Red Sox Sunday. The next order of business for manager John Gibbons is naming his starting pitcher for the Tuesday’s date with the Baltimore Orioles.
In terms of who’s had adequate rest, the Blue Jays’ options are right handers R.A. Dickey and Marcus Stroman or lefty Francisco Liriano.
FOX Sports’ MLB insider Jon Morosi was a guest on Blundell and Co. on Sportsnet 590 The FAN Monday and made a case for Liriano as the best bet for Toronto.
“This is maybe a superstitious game, a game that is based on history and track record,” Morosi said. “It was three years and two days ago that the Pittsburgh Pirates had a great deal of success in a wild card game with a battery of Francisco Liriano and Russell Martin.”
Liriano tossed seven innings versus the Cincinnati Reds in the 2013 wild card game, giving up just four hits and one earned run with five strikeouts and one walk. Martin went 3-for-4 with two home runs in the Pirates’ 6-2 win.
Superstition aside, Liriano may give the Blue Jays an advantage based on matchups.
“The Orioles have fared better, this year, against righties than lefties, so that might nudge you towards wanting to have Liriano on the mound,” Morosi noted. “Also, Liriano over the last few weeks he’s been probably Toronto’s best starting pitcher.
“I think you’ve got a number of factors pointing toward Liriano as the starter…The Jays rotation lines up very well if they win this game and I think their best chance to win this game, I believe, starts with Liriano on the mound.”
The Orioles rank last in the AL with a .234 batting average versus left-handers compared to a .263 mark against righties, which is good enough for third in the AL.
Liriano has been red-hot in the month of September with a 2.03 ERA in six appearances (four starts) and 29 strikeouts and six walks in 26.2 innings of work. The 32 year old faced the Orioles on September 28, walking away with a no-decision despite striking out 10 batters in 6.1 innings of shutout ball.
Stroman is 1-2 versus Baltimore this season with an inflated 7.04 ERA in 23 innings of work.