(St. Petersburg) The Toronto Blue Jays have decided to break with tradition for their first playoff game in four years.
The Toronto team sent right-hander Matt Shoemaker to the mound for Game 1 of the two-of-three series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. The No. 1 American League team is betting on Blake Snell, winner of the Cy-Young Trophy in 2018.
The Blue Jays are booking Hyun-Jin Ryu for Game 2, opting to give their ace pitcher an extra day off. If a third game is needed, they plan to use Taijuan Walker, their most effective second starter in recent weeks.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said his team needs to get creative to surprise the Rays, who lost to the Houston Astros in the American League section series last year.
Meanwhile, Montoyo has added power hitter Rowdy Tellez to his 28-man roster for this series. The first-baseman hasn't played since he suffered a right knee injury three weeks ago. The Jays removed his name from the 10-day injured list on Monday.
Tellez has hit eight home runs and produced 23 points while maintaining offensive averages of .283 /, 346 / .540 in 2020.
Canadian reliever Jordan Romano, sidelined for a month, is not on the Jays roster for this first round, as are pitchers TJ Zeuch, Shun Yamaguchi and Tanner Roark.
The Jays secured the eighth and final place leading to the extended playoffs in the American League finishing with a 32-28 record in a season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Rays won the Eastern Division title with a 40-20 record.