Royals, Jays set rotations for ALCS, with one spot open

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada during Thursday’s news conference at Kauffman Stadium.
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada during Thursday’s news conference at Kauffman Stadium.

Royals manager Ned Yost will use four starters in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series against the Blue Jays, but he declined to name his Game 4 starter on Thursday.

After Edinson Volquez starts the series opener on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium, Yordano Ventura will pitch Game 2 at home Saturday. Johnny Cueto, who has retired 19 batters in a row, will start Game 3 on Monday in Toronto.

With left-hander Danny Duffy moved to the bullpen, Yost’s options for Game 4 on Tuesday would be Chris Young or Kris Medlen. Young relieved Ventura in the third inning of ALDS Game 1 against Houston and kept the Royals in the game. He allowed a home run but struck out seven in four innings of a 5-2 loss. Medlen has not pitched since an Oct. 1 start at the Chicago White Sox in which he allowed one earned runs in six innings of a 6-4 Royals victory.

Cueto, of course, bounced back from a mediocre start in Game 2 against the Astros and retired all but two batters in eight innings of Game 5 on Wednesday: an infield single by Evan Gattis and a first-pitch home run to Luis Valbuena in back-to-back at bats. Cueto struck out eight.

“He was unbelievably good,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He didn’t make a bad pitch all night.”

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is also going with a four-man rotation, using Marco Estrada in Game 1 against Volquez, David Price in Game 2 against Ventura, Marcus Stroman in Game 3 against Cueto and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey in Game 4 on Tuesday in Toronto.

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Price started Game 1 of the ALDS against Texas and threw 50 pitches of relief in Game 4 on Monday, making him an option to pitch on three days’ rest Friday.

“What it came down to these guys all have a lot of innings under their belt,” Gibbons said. “Let’s try to get some normalcy back to them a little bit, where you’re not pitching on short rest.

“Estrada, we felt that would be the best way to go.”

Estrada held Texas to one run in 5  1/3 innings in a must-win Game 3 for the Blue Jays, who won 5-1.

Price gave up five runs in seven innings of the Blue Jays’ 5-3 loss in Game 1 of their ALDS against Texas before relieving Dickey for three innings in Toronto’s 8-4 win in Game 4. Protecting an 8-1 lead in the seventh, he allowed one run and two more in the eighth.

Stroman tore his ACL in spring training but returned to make four starts in September, going 4-0 and allowing five runs in 27 innings. He started Game 2 and left the game in the eighth with the tying run on base, which later scored, and the Blue Jays lost in 14 innings. He allowed two runs in six innings and left Game 5 with the score tied.

Fox announces broadcast team

Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci will be in the booth for the ALCS, Fox announced. Former Royal Raul Ibañez will be part of the pregame and postgame shows (from Los Angeles) along with host Kevin Burkhardt and Max Scherzer, Pete Rose and Frank Thomas.

Chris Fickett: 816-234-4354, @ChrisFickett

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