Blue Jays name Manoah starter for Opening Day vs. Cardinals

Blue Jays name Manoah starter for Opening Day vs. Cardinals

DUNEDIN, Fla. – When the Toronto Blue Jays open the 2023 season next Thursday, Alek Manoah will be on the mound.

It’s the first career Opening-Day start for Manoah, who posted a 2.24 ERA in 2022 on his way to a third-place finish in American League Cy Young Award voting. The honour also comes less than two years after Manoah’s MLB debut, reinforcing just how rapid his ascent to stardom has been since being selected by the Blue Jays 11th overall in the 2019 draft.

Kevin Gausman will start the second game of the year for the Blue Jays, who open the season in St. Louis against the Cardinals. Rounding out the rotation will be Chris Bassitt, Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikuchi, though the order of their appearances has yet to be finalized.

The Blue Jays announced Manoah’s opening-day assignment Friday morning ahead of his final Grapefruit League start, a nighttime assignment against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Last year, Berrios started on opening day only to give up four earned runs against the Texas Rangers on a night he didn’t escape the first inning. As it turned out, that would be a sign of things to come for the Puerto Rican right-hander, who posted a 5.23 ERA in his first full season in Toronto.

Under those circumstances, the other candidate who earned consideration for the 2023 opening-day assignment was Gausman, who overcame some bad batted ball luck to post a 3.35 ERA in 31 starts a year ago.

But as impressive as Gausman’s season was, Manoah had the stronger year. Now, at age 25, he’ll take the responsibility of getting the Blue Jays’ 2023 season off to a winning start.

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