It’s Alek Manoah’s ball on opening day for the Toronto Blue Jays.
In his second full season in Major League Baseball, Manoah will start on the mound for the Blue Jays against the St. Louis Cardinals on March 30, manager John Schneider announced Friday.
After a debate between giving the opening day honours to Manoah or Kevin Gausman, the club opted for the hulking 25-year-old, while Gausman will pitch the second game of the season, also against the Cardinals.
Big Puma = Big Business 😤 @Alek_Manoah6 is our #OpeningDay starter! pic.twitter.com/dP7CuKFhw9
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) March 24, 2023
While Manoah played in the minor leagues in 2019 and 2021, he quickly found his footing at the top level, quickly establishing himself as one of the premier pitchers throughout the league.
He dominated the opposition through 2022, posting an incredible 2.24 ERA and 180 strikeouts across 31 starts and 196+ innings, good for a 16-7 record. Manoah finished third in the AL Cy Young Award voting and also got himself into his first MLB All-Star Game.
“It’s a credit to him,” Schneider said of Manoah. “He’s wise beyond his years. He’s probably one of the best competitors I’ve ever been around in terms of on the mound every fifth day.”
Gausman also warranted Cy Young looks after a stellar season and has impressed through spring training, leaving Schneider with a challenging decision heading into opening day.
“Spring training has been phenomenal [for him]. He’s throwing the sh-t out of it,” Schneider said about Gausman’s 0.00 ERA through four exhibition starts. “The fact that he was cool with it and understood that it’s another game was awesome.”
While the Blue Jays are starting their season on the road, fans won’t have to wait too long to see the boys of summer at the renovated Rogers Centre when they take the field at their home opener on April 11 against the Detroit Tigers.